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ci.No. u S q'Z.S N 3 l 

Ac No. 2, O 7 Dtte of release for loan 

This book should be returned on or before the date last ataoped 
below. An overdue charse of one anna will be levied for eadi day 
the book is kept beyond that date. 



The Return of the Soldier 
The Judge 
Harriet Hume 
The Thinking Reed 

Short Stories 

The Harsh Voice 


St. Augustine 


Henry James 

The Strange Necessity 

In Collaboration with Losu 
Lions and I ambs 
The Rake’s Progress 

First KJitioM February X 94 S 
FepriHieJ February and June i94.<. 1943 * X044. *94^ 





Kai Tm iroOtLv^v irarpiSa irapd<r)^v awols, 
IlopaOcuTOV froAiv iroiMV froAtras a^oik^. 

Grant to them the Fatherland of their desire, 
and make them again citizens of Paradise. 

J'cxigc un vrai bnnheur, un vrai amour, une vraie contr6e oil Ic soleil alteme 
avec la lunc, oil Ics saisons se deroulent en ordre, oil de vrais arbres portent 
de vrais fruits, oil de vrais poissons habitent les rivieres, et de vrais oiseaux le 
del, oil la vraie neige dccouvre de vraies fleurs, oil tout sort est vrai, vrai, 
vi’ritablc. J'en ai assez de cette lumiire mome, de ces campagnes stiriles, 
sans jour, sans nuit, oil ne survivent que les betes fdroces et rapaces, oil les 
lois de la nature ne fonctionnent plus. 

Jean Cocteau, Les Chevaliers de la Table Ronde 

FLur.T.bEN ! I think it is in Macedon where Alexander is pom. I tell you, 
captain, if you look in the maps of the ’orld, I warrant you sail find, in the 
comparisons between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, look you, 
is both alike. There is a river in Macedon; and there is also, moreover, a 
river at Monmouth ; It is called Wye at Monmouth ; but it is out of my 
prains what is the name of the other river ; but 'tis all one, ’tis alike as my 
fingers is to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. 

Shakespeare, King Henry the Fifth 


The spelling of Yugoslavian names presents a serious problem. The Serbo- 
Croat language is spoken in all parts of Yugoslavia described in this book ; 
but to write it the Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet (which is much the same 
as the Russian, but simpler) and the Croats use the Latin alphabet. Most 
foreign writers on Yugoslavia follow the Croatian spelling, but this is not 
satisfactory. The Cyrillic alphabet is designed to give a perfect phonetic 
rendering of the Slav group of languages, and provides characters for several 
consonants which other groups lack. The Latin alphabet can only represent 
these consonants by clapping accents on other consonants which bear some 
resemblance to them ; and the Croatian usage still further confuses the 
English eye by using " c " to represent not " s ” and " k " but " ts ”, and 
" j ” for “ y ”. 1 have found that in practice the casual English reader is 
baffled by this unfamiliar use of what looks familiar and is apt to pass over 
names without grasping them clearly. I have therefore done my best to 
transliterate all Yugoslavian names into forms most likely to convey the 
sound of them to English eats. Cetinje is written here as Tsetinye, jajee as 
Yaitse, Pe5 as Fetch, Sestine as Sbestinc. Kosovo I have written Kossovo, 
though the Serbo-Croat language uses no double consonants, because we 
take them as a sign that the preceding vowel is short. 

This is a rough-and-ready method, and at certain points it has broken 
down. The Cyrillic alphabet provides special characters for representing 
liquid consonants ; the Latin alphabet can only indicate these by adding 
“ j ” to the consonant, and this is extremely confusing at the end of a word. 
In pronouncing “ Senj " the speaker says " Sen ”, then starts to say a " y ” 
sound, arid stops half way. The English reader, seeing “ Senj ”, pronounces 
it “ Senge ” to rhyme with “ Penge ”. But the spelling " Seny ” makes him 
pronounce it as a dissyllable ; and if the suggestion of the Royal Geographical 
Society is adopted and the word is spelled " Sen’ ”, he is apt for some strange 
reason to interpret this sign as a Scotch " ch ”. I have therefore regarded 
the problem as insoluble, and have left such words spelt in the Croatian 
fashion, with the hope that readers will take the presence of the letter “ j ” as 
warning that there are dark phonetic doings afoot. In " Bitolj ”, I may add, 
the " 1 ” has almost entirely disappeared, having only a short “ y " sound. 

I have also given up any attempt to transliterate “ Sarajevo ” or 
“ Skoplje ”. For one thing “ Sarajevo ” is a tragically familiar form ; and 
for another, it is not a pure Slav word, and has the Turkish word “ sarai ”, a 
fortress, embedded in it, with a result hardly to be conveyed by any but a 
most uncouth spelling. It is pronounced something like “ Sa-rai-ye-vo ” 
with a faint accent on the second syllable, and a short “ e ”. As for 



“ Skoplje ", the one way one must not pronounce it is the way the English 
reader will certainly pronounce it if it is spelt “ Skoplye The “ o ” is 
short, and all the letters after it are combined into a single sound. I have 
committed another irregularity by putting an “ c ” into the word " Tsrna ”, 
so often found in place-names. This makes it easier for the English reader 
to grasp that the vowel sound in the rolled " r ” comes before it and not after. 

R. W. 








BOSNIA .... . , 300 





Death of Alexander Karageorgevitch, King of Yugo- 

slavia, Marseilles, qth October 1934 . . .18 


Market-place at Zagreb ..... 19 


The Walls of Rab ...... 130 

Photo; Putnik 

The Cathedral at Rab ...... 131 

Pox Photos t Ltd. 

The Peristyle of Diocletian’s Palace . . . 146 

Split from Mount Marian ..... 147 

Keystone Press Agency 

The Golden Door of Diocletian’s Palace . . 186 

Fox Photos, Ltd. 

Marmont’s Belvedere at Trogir .... 187 

A Dalmatian Doorway . . . . . .212 

Korchula ........ 213 

Dubrovnik : the Fountain of Onofrio de la Cava and 
Church of St. Saviour ..... 
Topical Press Agency 

Dubrovnik ....... 

Keystone Press Agency 

Costume of Mostar ...... 

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek 

drive TO THE TOWN HaLL, SARAJEVO, 28TH JuNE 1914 . 




The Mithraic Altar at Yaitse .... 418 
Monastery in the Frushka Gora . . , .419 




I RAISED myself on my elbow and called through the open 
door into the other wagon-lit : 

“ My dear, I know I have inconvenienced you terribly 
by making you take your holiday now, and I know you did not 
really want to come to Yugoslavia at all. But when you get 
there you will see why it was so important that we should make 
this journey, and that we should make it now, at Easter. It will 
all be quite clear, once we are in Yugoslavia.” 

There was, however, no reply. My husband had gone to 
sleep. It was perhaps as well. I could not have gone on to 
justify my certainty that this train was taking us to a land where 
everything was comprehensible, where the mode of life was so 
honest that it put an end to perplexity. I lay back in the dark- 
ness and marvelled that I should be feeling about Yugoslavia as 
if it were my mother country, for this was 1937, and I had never 
seen the place till 1936. Indeed, I could remember the first time 
I ever spoke the name " Yugoslavia ” and that was only two and 
a half years before, on October the ninth, 1934. 

It was in a London nursing-home. I had had an operation, 
in the new miraculous way. One morning a nurse had come in 
and given me an injection, as gently as might be, and had made 
a little joke which was not very good but served its purpose of 
taking the chill off the difficult moment. Then I picked up my 
book and read that sonnet by Joachim du Bellay which begins 
" Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage ”. I said 
to myself, ” That is one of the most beautiful poems in the world,” 
and I rolled over in my bed, still thinking that it was one of the 
most beautiful poems in the world, and found that the electric 
light was burning and there was a new nurse standing at the end 



of my bed. Twelve hours had passed in that moment. They 
had taken me upstairs to a room far above the roofs of London, 
and had cut me about for three hours and a half, and had brought 
me down again, and now I was merely sleepy, and not at all 
sick, and still half-rooted in my pleasure in the poem, still listen- 
ing to a voice speaking through the ages, with barest economy 
that somehow is the most lavish melody : “ Et en quelle saison 
Revoiray-je le clos de ma pauvre maison, Qui m’est une province 
et beaucoup tl’avantage ? *’ 

I had been told beforehand that it would all be quite easy ; 
but before an operation the unconscious, which is really a shock- 
ing old fool, envisages surgery as it was in the Stone Age, and 
I had been very much afraid. 1 rebuked myself for not having 
observed that the universe was becoming beneficent at a great 
rate. But it was not yet wholly so. My operation wound left 
me an illusion that I had a load of ice strapped to my body. So, 
to distract me, I had a radio brought into my room, and for the 
first time I realised how uninteresting life could be and how 
perverse human appetite. After I had listened to some talks 
and variety programmes, I would not have been surprised to 
hear that there are householders who make arrangements with 
the local authorities not to empty their dustbins but to fill them. 
Nevertheless there was always good music provided by some 
station or other at any time in the day, and I learned to swing 
like a trapeze artist from programme to programme in search of it. 

But one evening I turned the wrong knob and found music 
of a kind other than I sought, the music that is above earth, that 
lives in the thunderclouds and rolls in human ears and some- 
times deafens them without betraying the path of its melodic 
line. I heard the announcer relate how the King of Yugoslavia 
had been assassinated in the streets of Marseilles that morning. 
We had passed into another phase of the mystery we are enacting 
here on earth, and I knew that it might be agonising. The rags 
and tags of knowledge that we all have about us told me what 
foreign power had done this thing. It appeared to me inevitable 
that war must follow, and indeed it must have done, had not the 
Yugoslavian Government exercised an iron control on its popula- 
tion, then and thereafter, and abstained from the smallest pro- 
vocative action against its enemies. That forbearance, which is 
one of the most extraordinary feats of statesmanship performed 
in post-war Europe, I could not be expected to foresee. So I 



imagined myself widowed and childless, which was another in- 
stance of the archaic outlook of the unconscious, for I knew that 
in the next war we women would have scarcely any need to fear 
bereavement, since air raids unpreceded by declaration of war 
would send us and our loved ones to the next world in the breach- 
less unity of scrambled eggs. That thought did not then occur 
to me, so I rang for my nurse, and when she came I cried to her, 
" Switch on the telephone ! I must speak to my husband at once. 
A most teirible thing has happened. The King of Yugoslavia 
has been assassinated.” “ Oh, dear 1 ” she replied. " Did you 
know him ? ” " No,” I said. “ Then why,” she asked, “ do 
you think it's so terrible ? ” 

Her question made me remember that the word “ idiot ” 
comes from a Greek root meaning private person. Idiocy is the 
female defect : intent on their private lives, women follow their 
fate through a darkness deep as that cast by malformed cells in 
the brain. It is no worse than the male defect, which is lunacy ; 
they are so obsessed by public affairs that they see the world as 
by moonlight, which shows the outlines of every object but not 
the details indicative of their nature. I said, ” Well, you know, 
assassinations lead to other things I ” ” Do they ? ” she asked. 
” Do they not 1 ” I sighed, for when I came to look back on it 
my life had been punctuated by the slaughter of royalties, by the 
shouting of newsboys who have run down the streets to tell me 
that someone has used a lethal weapon to turn over a new leaf in 
the book of history. I remember when I was five years old look- 
ing upward at my mother and her cousin, who were standing 
side by side and looking down at a newspaper laid on a table in 
a circle of gaslight, the folds in their white pouched blouses and 
long black skirts kept as still by their consternation as if they 
were carved in stone. “ There was the Empress Elizabeth of 
Austria," I said to the nurse, thirty-six years later. " She was 
very beautiful, wasn't she ? ” she asked. " One of the most 
beautiful women who ever lived,” I said. " But wasn’t she 
mad ? ” she asked. " Perhaps," I said, " perhaps, but only a 
little, and at the end. She was certainly brilliantly clever. Before 
she was thirty she had given proof of greatness.” “.How ? ” she 
asked. To her increasing distress I told her, for I know quite a 
lot of Hapsburg history, imtil I saw how bored she was and let 
her go and leave me in darkness that was now patterned by the 
lovely triangle of Elizabeth’s face. 


How great she was J In her earJy pictures she wears the 
same look of fiery sullenness we see in the young Napoleon : 
she knows that within her there is a spring of life and she is 
afraid that the world will not let it flow forth and do its fructifying 
work. In her later pictures she wears a look that was never on 
the face of Napoleon. The world had not let the spring flow 
forth and it had turned to bitterness. But she was not without 
achievements of the finest sort, of a sort, indeed, that Napoleon 
never equalled. When she was sixteen she came, a Wittelsbach 
from the country bumpkin court of Munich, to marry the young 
Emperor of Austria and be the governing prisoner of the court 
of Vienna, which was the court of courts since the French Revolu- 
tion had annulled the Tuileries and Versailles. The change 
would have made many women into nothing. But five years 
later she made a tour of Lombardy and Venetia at Franz Josefs 
side which was in many ways a miracle. It was, in the first 
place, a miracle of courage, because he and his officials had 
made these provinces loathe them for their brutality and in- 
efficiency. The yoimg girl sat with unbowed head in theatres 
that became silent as the grave at her coming, that were black 
with mourning worn to insult her, and she walked unperturbed 
through streets that emptied before her as if she were the plague. 
But when she came face to face with any Italians there occurred 
to her always the right word and gesture by which she uncovered 
her nature and pled : “ Look, I am the Empress, but I am not 
evil. Forgive me and my husband and Austria for the evil we 
have done you, and let us love one another and work for peace 
between us.” 

It was useless, of course. Her successes were immediately 
annulled by the arrests and floggings carried out by the Haps- 
burg officials. It was inevitable that the two provinces should 
be absorbed in the new kingdom of Italy. But Elizabeth’s 
sweetness had not been merely automatic, she had been thinking 
like a Liberal and like an Empress. She knew there was a real 
link betw'een Austria and Hungary, and that it was being strained 
by misgovernment. So the next year she made a journey 
through Hungary, which was also a matter of courage, for it 
was almost as gravely disaffected as Lombardy and Venetia, and 
afterwards she learned Hungarian, though it is one of the most 
difficult of languages, cultivated the friendship of many import- 
ant Hungarians, and acquainted herself with the nature of the 



concessions desired by Hungary. Her plans fell into abeyance 
when she parted from Franz Josef and travelled for five years. 
But in 1866 Austria was defeated by the Prussians, and she came 
back to console her husband, and then she induced him to create 
the Dual Monarchy and give autonomy to Hungary. It was by 
this device alone that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was able to 
survive into the twentieth century, and both the idea and the 
driving force behind the execution belonged to Elizabeth. That 
was statesmanship. Nothing of Napoleon’s making lasted so 
long, nor was made so nobly. 

Elizabeth should have gone on and medicined some of the 
other sores that were poisoning the Empire. She should have 
solved the problem, of the Slav populations under Hapsburg rule. 
The Slavs were a people, quarrelsome, courageous, artistic, intel- 
lectual and profoundly perplexing to all other peoples, who came 
from Asia into the Balkan Peninsula early in the Christian era 
and were christianised by Byzantine influence. Thereafter they 
founded violent and magnificent kingdoms of infinite promise in 
Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, but these were overthrown when 
the Turks invaded Europe in the fourteenth century, and all 
were enslaved except the Slavs on the western borders of the 
Peninsula. These lived under the wing of the great powers, of 
Venice and Austria and Hungary, which was a doubtful privilege, 
since they were used as helots and as man-power to be spent 
without thrift against the Turks. Now all of these were under 
the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Czechs and the Croats, and 
the Slovenes and the Slovaks and the Dalmatians ; and they 
were alike treated oppressively, largely because the German- 
Austrians felt a violent instinctive loathing of all Slavs and 
particularly of the Czechs, whose great intelligence and ability 
made them dangerous competitors in the labour market. More- 
over, Serbia and Bulgaria had thrown off the Turkish yoke 
during the nineteenth century and had established themselves as 
free states, and the reactionary parties in Austria and Hungary 
feared that if their Slav populations were given liberty they 
would seek union with Serbia under Russian protection. There- 
fore they harried the Slavs as much as they could, by all possible 
economic and social penalties, and tried with especial venom to 
destroy their languages, and created for themselves an increasing 
amount of internal disorder which all sane men saw to carry a 
threat of disruption. It might have saved the Empire altogether, 



it might have averted the war of 1914, if Elizabeth had dealt 
with the Slavs as she dealt with the Hungarians. But after 
thirty she did no more work for the Empire. " 

Her work stopped because her marriage, which was the 
medium for her work, ceased to be tolerable. It appears 
probable, from the evidence we have, that Elizabeth could not 
reconcile herself to a certain paradox which often appears in 
the lives of very feminine women. She knew that certain 
virtues are understood to be desirable in women : beauty, 
tenderness, grace, house-pride, the power to bear and , rear 
children. She believed that she possessed some of th^ virtues 
and that her husband loved her for it. Indeed, he seemed to 
have given definite proof that he loved her by marrying her 
against the will of his mother, the Archduchess Sophie. And 
she thought that because he loved her he must be her friend. 
In that she was artless. Her husband like many other human 
beings was divided between the love of life and the love of death. 
His love of life made him love Elizabeth. His love of death 
made him love his abominable mother, and give her an authority 
over Elizabeth which she horribly misused. 

The Archduchess Sophie is a figure of universal significance. 
She was the kind of woman whom men respect for no other 
reason than that she is lethal, whom a male committee will 
appoint to the post of hospital matron. She had none of the 
womanly virtues. Especially did she lack tenderness. There is 
no record of her ever having said a gentle word to the girl of 
sixteen whom her son brought home to endure this troublesome 
greatness, and she arranged for the Archbishop who performed 
their marriage ceremony to address an insulting homily to the 
bride, bidding her remember that she was a nobody who had 
been called to a great position, and try to do her best. In 
politics she was practised in every kind of folly that most 
affronted the girl's instinctive wisdom. She was always thrust- 
ing the blunt muzzle of her stupidity into conclaves of state, 
treading down intelligent debate as a beast treads down the 
grass at a gate into mud, undermining the foundations of the 
Empire by insisting that everybody possible should be opposed 
and hurt. She was personally responsible for some very ugly 
persecutions : one of her victims was the peasant philosophy 
Konrad Deubly. She was also a great slut. She had done 
nothing to reform the medievalism of the Austrian Palaces. 



It was the middle of the nineteenth century when -Elizabeth 
came to Vienna, but both at the Winter Palace and the Summer 
Palace, at the Hofbui^ and Schonbrunn, was she expected to 
perform her excretory functions at a commode behind a screen 
in a passage which was patrolled by a sentry. The Archduchess 
Sophie saw to it that the evil she did should live after her by 
snatching Elizabeth’s children away from her and allowing her 
no part in their upbringing. One little girl died in her care, 
attended by a doctor whom Elizabeth thought old-fashioned and 
incompetent ; and the unhappy character of the Crown Prince 
Rudolf, restless, undisciplined, tactless and insatiable, bears 
witness to her inability to look after their minds. 

After Franz Josef had lost Elizabeth by putting this inferior 
over her and proving that love is not necessarily kind, he showed 
her endless kindness and indulgence, financing her wanderings 
and her castle-buildings with great good temper and receiving 
her gladly when she came home ; and it seems she had no ill- 
feeling against him. She introduced the actress, Katherina 
Schratt, into his life very much as a woman might put flowers 
into a room she felt to be dreary. But she must have hated him 
as the Hapsburg of Hapsburgs, the centre of the imbecile 
system, when on January the thirtieth, 1889, Rudolf was found 
dead in his shooting-box at MayCrling beside the body of a girl 
of seventeen named Marie Vetsera. This event still remains a 
mystery. Marie Vetsera had been his mistress for a year and it 
is usually supposed that he and she had agreed to die together 
because Franz Josef had demanded they should part. But this 
is very hard to believe. Marie Vetsera was a very fat and plain 
little girl, bouncing with a vulgar ardour stimulated by im- 
proper French novels, which had already led her into an affair 
with an English officer in Egypt ; and it seems unlikely that 
Rudolf, who was a man of many love-affairs, should have thought 
her of supreme value after a year’s possession, particularly con- 
sidering that he had spent the night before he went to Mayerling 
with an actress to whom he had long been attached. It would 
seem much more probable that he had taken his life or (which is 
possible if his farewell notes were forged) been murdered as a 
result of troubles arising from his political opinions. 

Of these we know a great deal, because he wrote a great 
number of articles for anonymous publication in the Neues 
Wiener Tageblatt and an even greater number of letters to its 


editor, a gifted Jew named Moritz Szeps. These show that he 
was a fervent Liberal and loathed the Hapsburg system. He 
loathed the expanding militarism of Germany, and prophesied 
that a German alliance would mean the destruction of Austria, 
body and soul ; and he revered France with its deeply rooted 
culture and democratic tradition. He was enraged by anti- 
Semitism and wrote one of his most forcible articles against a 
gang of aristocrats who after a drunken orgy had gone round 
the Ghetto of Prague smashing windows, and had been let off 
scot-free by the police. He was scandalised by the corruption of 
the banks and law-courts, and by the lack of integrity among 
high officials and politicians, and most of all by the Austro- 
Hungarian Empire. " As a simple onlooker,” he wrote, “ I am 
curious to know how such an old and tough organism as the 
Austrian Empire can last so long without cracking at the joints 
and breaking into pieces.” Particularly was he eager to deal 
with the Slav problem, which had now grown even more com- 
plicated. Bosnia and Herzegovina had driven out the Turks 
and had been cheated out of the freedom they had thus won by 
the Treaty of Berlin, which had given the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire the right to occupy and administer them. This had 
enraged the Slavs and given Serbia a grievance, so it was held 
by reactionaries to be all the more necessary to defend Austrian 
and Hungarian privileges. Rudolf had shown what he felt early 
in his career : when Franz Josef had appointed him colonel he 
had chosen to be attached to a Czech regiment with middle-class 
officers which was then stationed in Prague. 

Whatever the explanation of Mayerling it must have raised 
Elizabeth’s impatience with Vienna to loathing. The situation 
was unmitigated waste and ruin. She had never achieved a 
happy relationship with her son, although there was a strong 
intellectual sympathy between them, because of the early alienat- 
ing influence of the Archduchess Sophie, and the Hapsburgs had 
spoiled what they had not let her save. Rudolf had been forced 
for dynastic reasons into a marriage with a tedious Belgian 
princess, an acidulated child with golden hair, small eyes and 
the conservative opinions one would expect from a very old 
member of the Carlton Club. She was literally a child ; at 
the time of her wedding she had not yet shown the signs of 
womanhood. Owing to a slip in the enormously complicated 
domestic machinery of the Hapsburgs, she and her young bride- 



groom, who was only twenty-two, had been sent for their honey- 
moon to a remote castle which had been left servantless and 
unprepared. This ill-begun marriage had gone from bad to 
worse, and both husband and wife tortured and were tortured 
in turn. But it was the Hapsburg situation, not merely the 
specific wrongs the Hapsburgs brought on Rudolf, that were 
his ruin. Chamberlains fussed, spies scribbled, the police bullied 
and nagged, everybody knew where everybody else was at every 
moment of the day, Franz Josef rose at four each morning and 
worked on official papers for twelve or fourteen hours ; and not 
a minute's thought was given to correcting the evils that were 
undermining the foundations of the Empire. Rudolf, as any 
intelligent member of the family must have done, tried to remedy 
this. Either he made some too ambitious plan and was detected 
and killed himself or was killed, of from discouragement he 
soused himself with brandy till it seemed proper to die for a 
plump little hoyden of seventeen. Now he lay dead, and the 
Austro-Hungarian Empire was without a direct or satisfactory 

Elizabeth lived nine years after her son’s death, as drearily 
as any other of the unemployed. Then, perhaps as a punishment 
for having turned her back on the Slav problem, the key to 
Eastern Europe, a Western problem slew her. For the news- 
paper my mother and her cousin spread in the gaslight was 
wrong when it said that the man who killed her, Luccheni, was 
a madman. It is true that he said that he had killed Elizabeth 
because he had vowed to kill the first royal person he could find, 
and that he had gone to Evian to stab the Duke of Orleans but 
had missed him and had come back to Geneva to get Elizabeth 
instead ; and this is an insane avowal, for no benefit whatsoever 
could be derived by anybody from the death of either of these 
people. But for all that Luccheni was not mad. Many people 
are unable to say what they mean only because they have not 
been given an adequate vocabulary by their environment ; and 
their apparently meaningless remarks may be inspired by a 
sane enough consciousness of real facts. 

There is a phase of ancient history which ought never to be 
forgotten by those who wish to understand their fellow-men. 
In Africa during the fourth century a great many Christians 
joined a body of schismatics known as the Donatists who were 
wrecking the Church by maintaining that only sacraments 



^ministered by a righteous priest were valid, and that a number 
of contemporary priests had proved themselves unrighteous by 
showing cowardice during the persecutions of Diocletian. They 
raved : for according to the Church Christ is the real dispenser 
of the sacraments, and it is inconceivable that a relationship 
prescribed by Him could break down through the personality of 
the mediator, and in many cases the tales were scandalmonger- 
ing. But though these people raved they were not mad. They 
were making the only noises they knew to express the misery 
inflicted on them by the economic collapse of the Western Roman 
Empire. Since there was no economic literature there was no 
vocabulary suitable to their misery, so they had to use the vocabu- 
lary given them by the Church ; and they screamed nonsense 
about the sacraments because they very sensibly recognised that 
the Western Roman Empire was going to die, and so were they. 

It was so with Luccheni. He performed his meaningless act 
out of his consciousness of what is perhaps the most real distress 
of our age. He was an Italian born in Paris of parents forced to 
emigrate by their poverty and trodden down into an alien 
criminal class : that is to say, he belonged to an urban popula- 
tion for which the existing forms of government made no pro- 
vision, which wandered often workless and always traditionless, 
without power to control its destiny. It was indeed most appro- 
priate that he should register his discontent by killing Elizabeth, 
for Vienna is the archetype of the great city which breeds such 
a population. Its luxury was financed by an exploited peasant 
class bled so white that it was ready to’ send its boys into the 
factories and the girls into service on any terms. The beggars 
in the streets of Vienna, who the innocent suppose were put 
there by the Treaty of St. Germain, are descendants of an army as 
old as the nineteenth century. Luccheni said with his stiletto to 
the symbol of power, " Hey, what arc you going to do with me ? ” 
He made no suggestions, but cannot be blamed for it. It was 
the essence of his case against society that it had left him unfit 
to offer suggestions, unable to form thoughts or design actions 
other than the crudest and most violent. He lived many years 
in prison, almost until his like had found a vocabulary and a 
name for themselves and had astonished the world with the 
farce of Fascism. 

So Elizabeth died, with a terrible ease. All her life her 
corsets had deformed and impeded her beautiful body, but they 



did not protect her from the assassin’s stiletto. That cut clean 
through to her heart. Even so her imperial rank had insulated 
her from emotional and intellectual achievement, but freely 
admitted sorrow. And it would not leave her alone after her 
death. She had expressed in her will a solemn desire to be 
buried in the Isle of Corfu, but for all that Franz Josef had her 
laid in the Hapsburg vault at the Capuchin church of Vienna, 
fifteenth in the row of Empresses. The Hapsburgs did not 
restrict themselves to the fields of the living in the exercise of 
their passion for preventing people from doing what they liked. 
Rudolf also asked that he might not be buried among his ances- 
tors, but he had to yield up his skeleton ; and the Prime Minister 
himself. Count Taaffe, called on Marie Vetsera’s mother and 
asked her not to pray beside her daughter’s grave, and received 
many police reports on her refusal to abandon this practice, 
which seems innocent enough even from the point of view of the 
court, since the whole of Vienna already knew how the girl had 
died. This was the kind of matter the Austrian Secret Police 
could handle. In the more important matter of keeping Royal 
Personages alive they were not nearly so successful. 

After that Austria became a quiet place in Western eyes. 
Proust has pointed out that if one goes on performing any action, 
however banal, long enough, it automatically becomes " won- 
derful ” ; a simple walk down a hundred yards of village street 
is “ wonderful ” if it is made every Sunday by an old lady of 
eighty. Franz Josef had for so long risen from his camp bed at 
four o’clock in the morning and worked twelve or fourteen hours 
on his official papers that he was recognised as one of the most 
" wonderful " of sovereigns, almost as " wonderful " as Queen 
Victoria, though he had shown no signs of losing in age the 
obstinacy and lack of imagination that made him see it as his 
duty to preserve his court as a morgue of etiquette and his Empire 
as a top-heavy anachronism. He was certain of universal 
acclamation not only during his life but after his death, for it is 
the habit of the people, whenever an old man mismanages his 
business so that it falls to pieces as soon as he dies, to say, " Ah, 
So-and-so was a marvel ! He kept things together so long as 
he was alive, and look what happens now he has gone I ” It 
was true that there was already shaping in his court a disaster 
that was to consume us all ; but this did not appear to English 
eyes, largely because Austria was visited before the war only by 


our upper classes, who in no country noticed anything but horses, 
and Austrian horses were good. 

The next time the red light of violence shone out it seemed 
of no importance, an irrelevant horror. When I was ten years 
old, on June the eleventh, 1903, Alexander Obrenovitch, King of 
Serbia, and his wife Draga were murdered in the Palace at Bel- 
grade, and their naked bodies thrown out of their bedroom into 
the garden. The Queen’s two brothers and two Ministers were also 
killed. The murder was the work of a number of Army officers, 
none of whom was then known outside Serbia, and the main 
characters were not interesting. Alexander was a flabby young 
man with pince-nez who had a taste for clumsy experiments in 
absolutism, and his wife, who strangely enough belonged to the 
same type as Marie Vetsera, though she had in her youth been 
far more beautiful, was understood to have the disadvantages of 
being disreputable, having an ambitious family, and lying under 
the suspicion of having tried to palm off a borrowed baby as an 
heir to the throne. There can be no question that these people 
were regarded with terrified apprehension by the Serbians, who 
had freed themselves from the Turk not a hundred years before 
and knew that their independence was perpetually threatened by 
the great powers. The crime lingered in my mind only because 
of its nightmare touches. The conspirators blew open the door 
of the Palace with a dynamite cartridge which fused the electric 
lights, and they stumbled about blaspheming in the darkness, 
passing into a frenzy of cruelty that was half terror. The King and 
Queen hid in a secret cupboard in their bedroom for two hours, 
listening to the searchers grow cold, then warm, then cold again, 
then warm, and at last hot, and burning hot. The weakly King 
was hard to kill : when they threw him from the balcony they 
thought him doubly dead from bullet wounds and sword slashes, 
but the fingers of his right hand clasped the railing and had to 
be cut off before he fell to the ground, where the fingers of his 
left hand clutched the grass. Though it was June, rain fell on 
the naked bodies in the early morning as they lay among the 
flowers. The whole of Europe was revolted. Edward VII with- 
drew his Minister and most of the great powers followed his 

That murder was just a half-tone square, dimly figured with 
horror, at the back of my mind : a Police News poster or the 
front page of a tabloid, seen years ago. But now I realise that 



when Alexander and Draga fell from that balcony the whole of 
the modem world fell with them. It took some time to reach 
the ground and break its neck, but its fall started then. For 
this is not a strictly moral universe, and it is not true that it is 
useless to kill a tyrant because a worse man takes his place. It 
has never been more effectively disproved than by the successor 
of Alexander Obrenovitch. Peter Karageorgevitch came to the 
throne under every possible disadvantage. He was close on 
sixty and had never seen Serbia since he left it with his exiled 
father at the age of fourteen ; he had been brought up at Geneva 
under the influence of Swiss Liberalism and had later become 
an officer in the French Army ; he had no experience of state- 
craft, and he was a man of modest and retiring personality and 
simple manners, who had settled down happily at Geneva, to 
supervise the education of his three motherless children and 
pursue mildly bookish interests. It appears to be true that 
though he had told the conspirators of his readiness to accept 
the ^rbian throne if Alexander Obrenovitch vacated it, he had 
had no idea that they proposed to do anything mere violent than 
force an abdication ; after all, his favourite author was John 
Stuart Mill. The Karageorgevitch belief in the sacredness of 
the dynasty brought him back to Belgrade, but it might have 
been safely wagered that he would need all the support he could 
get to stay there. He was entirely surrounded by the con- 
spirators whose crime he abhorred, and he could not dismiss 
them, because in sober fact they numbered amongst them some 
of the ablest and most public-spirited men in Serbia ; and with 
these fierce critics all about him perfectly capable of doing what 
they had done before, he had to keep order in a new and ex- 
panding country, vexed with innumerable internal and external 

But Peter Karageorgevitch was a great king. Slowly and 
soberly he proved himself one of the finest Liberal statesmen in 
Europe, and later, in the Balkan wars which drove the Turk 
out of Macedonia and Old Serbia, he proved himself a magnifi- 
cent soldier. Never was there worse luck for Europe. Austria, 
with far more territory than she could properly administer, 
wanted more and had formed her Drang nach Osten, her 
Hasten to the East policy. Now the formidable new military 
state of Serbia was in her way, and might even join with Russia 
to attack her. Now, too, all the Slav peoples of the Empire 



were seething with discontent because the free Serbians were 
doing so well, and the German-Austrians hated them more than 
ever. The situation had been further complicated since Rudolfs 
day because the Empire had affronted Slav feeling by giving up 
the pretence that Bosnia and Herzegovina were provinces which 
she merely occupied and administered, and formally annexing 
them. This made many Slavs address appeals to Serbia, which, 
as was natural in a young country, sometimes answered boastfully. 

The situation was further complicated by the character of the 
man who had succeeded Rudolf as the heir to the Imperial 
Crown, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Este. This unlovable 
melancholic had upset all sections of the people by his proposals, 
drafted and expressed without the slightest trace of statesman- 
ship, to make a tripartite monarchy of the Empire, by forming 
the Slavs into a separate kingdom. The reactionaries felt this 
was merely an expression of his bitter hostility towards the 
Emperor and his conservatism ; the Slavs were unimpressed and 
declared they would rather be free like Serbia. The reaction of 
Austria to this new situation was extravagant fear. The Austrian 
Chief of General Staff, Conrad von Hotzendorf, was speaking 
for many of his countrymen and most of his class when he 
ceaselessly urged that a preventive war should be waged against 
Serbia before she became more capable of self-defence. He and 
his kind would not have felt this if Alexander Obrcnovitch had 
not been murdered and given place to a better man, who made a 
strong and orderly Serbia. 

Then on June the twenty-eighth, 1914, the Austro-Hun- 
garian Government allowed Franz Ferdinand to go to Bosnia 
in his capacity of Inspector-General of the Army to conduct 
manoeuvres on the Serbian frontier. It was strange that he 
should wish to do this, and that they should allow him, for that 
is St. Vitus’ Day, the anniversary of the battle of Kossovo in 
1389, the defeat of the Serb princes by the Turks which meant 
five hundred years of enslavement. That defeat had been wiped 
out in the Balkan War by the recapture of Kossovo, and it was 
not tactful to remind the Serbs that some of their people were 
still enslaved by a foreign power. But Franz Ferdinand had 
his wish and then paid a visit to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, 
where the police gave him quite insufficient protection, though 
they had been warned that attempts were to be made on his 
life. A Bosnian Serb named Princip, who deeply resented 



Austro-Hungarian misrule, was able without any difficulty to 
shoot him as he drove along the street, and accidentally killed 
his wife as well. It must be noted that he was a Serb and not a 
Serbian. A Croat is a Catholic member and a Serb an Orthodox 
member of a Slav people that lies widely distributed south of the 
Danube, between the Adriatic and Bulgaria, and north of the 
Greek mountains. A Serbian is a subject of the kingdom of 
Serbia, and might be a Croat, just as a Croatian-bom inhabitant 
of the old Austrian province of Croatia might be a Serb. But 
Princip had brought his revolver from Belgrade, and though he 
had been given it by a private individual and not by the Govern- 
ment, the Austro-Hungarian Empire used this as a pretext to 
declare war on Serbia. Other powers took sides and the Great 
War started. 

Of that assassination I remember nothing at all. Every 
detail of Elizabeth’s death is clear in my mind, of the Belgrade 
massacre I keep a blurred image, but I cannot recall reading 
anything about the Sarajevo attentat or hearing anyone speak of 
it. I was then very busy being an idiot, being a private person, 
and I had enough on my hands. But my idiocy was like my 
anaesthetic. During the blankness it dispensed I was cut about 
and felt nothing, but it could not annul the consequences. The 
pain came afterwards. 

So, that evening in 1934, I lay in bed and looked at my radio 
fearfully, though it had nothing more to say that was relevant, 
and later on the telephone talked to my husband, as one does in 
times of crisis if one is happily married, asking him questions 
which one knows quite well neither he nor anyone else can 
answer and deriving great comfort from what he says. I was 
really frightened, for all these earlier killings had either hastened 
doom towards me or prefigured it. If Rudolf had not died he 
might have solved the Slav problem of the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire and restrained its Imperialist ambition, and there might 
have been no war. If Alexander Obrenovitch had not been 
killed Serbia might never have been strong enough to excite the 
Empire’s jealousy and fear, and there might have been no war. 
The killing of Franz Ferdinand was war itself. And the death 
of Elizabeth had shown me the scourge of the world after the 
war, Luccheni, Fascism, the rule of the dispossessed class that 
claims its rights and cannot conceive them save in terms of 
empty violence, of killing, taking, suppressing. 


And now there was another killing. Again it was in the 
South-East of Europe, where was the source of all the other 
deaths. That seemed to me strange, in 1934, because the Slav 
problem then seemed to have been satisfactorily settled by the 
war. The Czechs and the Slovaks had their pleasant democratic 
state, which was working well enough except for the complaints 
of the Sudeten Germans who under the Hapsburgs had been 
pampered with privileges paid for by their Slav neighbours. 
The Slovenes and the Croats and the Dalmatians and the Monte- 
negrins were now united in the kingdom of the South Slavs, 
which is what Yugoslavia means ; and though the Slovenes and 
Croats and the Dalmatians were separated in spirit from the 
Serbs by their Catholicism and the Montenegrins hankered after 
their lost independence, the state had seemed to be finding its 
balance. But here was another murder, another threat that 
man was going to deliver himself up to pain, was going to serve 
death instead of life. 

A few days later my husband told me that he had seen a 
news film which had shown with extraordinary detail the actual 
death of the King of Yugoslavia, and as soon as I could leave 
the nursing-home I went and saw it. I had to go to a private 
projection room, for by that time it had been withdrawn from 
the ordinary cinemas, and I took the opportunity to have it run 
over several times, while I peered at it like an old woman reading 
the tea-leaves in her cup. First there was the Yugoslavian war- 
ship sliding into the harbour of Marseilles, which I know very 
well. Behind it was that vast suspension bridge which always 
troubles me because it reminds me that in this mechanised 
age I am as little able to understand my environment as any 
primitive woman who thinks that a waterfall is inhabited by a 
spirit, and indeed less so, for her opinion might from a poetical 
point of view be correct. I know enough to be aware that this 
bridge cannot have been spun by a vast steel spider out of its 
entrails, but no other explanation seems to me as plausible, and 
1 have not the faintest notion of its use. But the man who comes 
down the gangway of the ship and travels on the tender to the 
quay, him I can understand, for he is something that is not new. 
Always the people have had the idea of the leader, and some- 
times a man is born w’ho embodies this idea. 

His face is sucked too close to the bone by sickness to be 
tranquil or even handsome, and it would at any time have sug- 



gested a dry pedantry, unnatural in a man not far advanced in 
the forties. But he looks like a great man, which is not to say 
that he is a good man or a wise man, but is to say that he has 
that historic quality which comes from intense concentration on 
an important subject. What he is thinking of is noble, to jud^e 
from the homage he pays it with his eyes, and it governs him 
entirely. He does not relapse into it when the other world fails 
to interest him, rather does he relapse into noticing what is about 
him when for a moment his interior communion fails him. But 
he is not abstracted, he is paying due respect to the meeting 
between France and Yugoslavia. Indeed he is bringing to the 
official occasion a naive earnestness. When Monsieur Barthou, 
the French Foreign Minister, comes and greets him, it is as if a 
jolly priest, fully at ease in his orders, stands before the altar 
beside a tortured mystical layman. Sometimes, too, he shows 
by a turn of the head, by a dilation of the pinched nostrils, that 
some aspect of the scene has pleased him. 

About all his reactions there is that jerky quickness which 
comes of long vigilance. It was natural. He had been a soldier 
from boyhood, and since the Great War he had perpetually been 
threatened with death from within, by tuberculosis, and with 
death from without, by assassination at the hand of Croats or 
Macedonians who wanted independence instead of union with 
Serbia. But it is not fear that is his preoccupation. That, cer- 
tainly, is Yugoslavia. He has the look of one of those men who 
claim that they rule by divine right whether they be kings or 
presidents, because their minds curve protectively over their 
countries with the inclusiveness of the sky. When one sees 
President Roosevelt one is sure that he is thinking about 
America ; sometimes his thought may be soft and loose, but it 
is always dedicated to the same service. Those who saw Lenin 
say that he was always thinking of Russia ; even when his 
thought was hard and tight it knew the same dedication. In our 
own King George V we recognised that piety. 

Now King Alexander is driving down the familiar streets, 
curiously unguarded, in a curiously antique car. It can be seen 
from his attempt to make his stiff hand supple, from a careless 
flash of his careful black eyes, it can be seen that he is taking the 
cheers of the crowd with a childish seriousness. It is touching, 
like a girl putting full faith in the compliments that are paid to 
her at a ball. Then his preoccupation veils his brows and desic- 


cates his lips. He is thinking of Yugoslavia again, with the 
nostalgia of an author who has been interrupted in writing his 
new book. He might be thinking, " Heureux qui, comme 
Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage. . . .” But then the camera 
leaves him. It recedes. The sound-track records a change, a 
swelling astonishment, in the voice of the crowd. We see a man 
jumping on the footboard of the car, a soldier swinging a 
sword, a revolver in the hand of another, a straw hat lying on the 
ground, a crowd that jumps up and down, up and down, smash- 
ing something flat with its arms, kicking something flat with its 
feet, till there is seen on the pavement a pulp covered with gar- 
ments. A lad in a sweater dodges before his captors, his defiant 
face unmarked by fear, although his body expresses the very last 
extreme of fear by a creeping writhing motion. A view of the 
whole street shows people dashed about as by a tangible wind 
of death. 

The camera returns to the car and we see the King. He is 
lying almost flat on his back on the seat, and he is as I was after 
the anaesthetic. He does not know that anything has happened, 
he is still half-rooted in the pleasure of his own nostalgia. He 
might be asking, “ Et en quelle saison Revoiray-je Ic clos de ma 
pauvre maison, Qui m’est une province et beaucoup d’avan- 
tage ? ” It is certain that he is dying, because he is the 
centre of a manifestation which would not happen unless the 
living had been shocked out of their reserve by the presence 
of death. Innumerable hands are caressing him. Hands are 
coming from everywhere, over the back of the car, over the sides, 
through the windows, to caress the dying King, and they are 
supremely kind. They are far kinder than faces can be, for 
faces are Marthas, burdened with many cares because of their 
close connection with the mind, but these hands express the 
mindless sympathy of living flesh for flesh that is about to die, 
the pure physical basis for pity. They are men’s hands, but 
they move tenderly as the hands of women fondling their babies, 
they stroke his cheek as if they were washing it w'ith kindness. 
Suddenly his nostalgia goes from him. His pedantry relaxes. 
He is at peace, he need not guard against death any more. 

Then the camera shows an official running wildly dowm a 
street in top-hat and frock-coat, demonstrating the special 
ridiculousness of middle-aged men, who have the sagging, 
anxious faces and protruding bellies appropriate to pregnancies. 

Marseilles, Qth October 1934 




but bring forth nothing. It would be a superb ending for a 
comic him. Then we see again the warship and the harbour, 
wfa^ the President of the Republic stands with many men 
around him, who are all as naively earnest as only one man was 
when that ship first came into the harbour. Now there is no 
jolly priest confident that he has the sacred mysteries well in 
hand : Barthou by now was also dead. All these men look as 
the King looked at his coming, as if there lay behind the surface 
of things a reality which at any moment might manifest itself as 
a eucharist to be partaken of not by individuals, but by nations. 
The coffin containing the man through which this terrible sacra- 
ment has been dispensed to France is carried on board, and the 
warship takes it away from these people, who stand in a vast 
circle, rigid with horror and reverence. They are intensely sur- 
prised that the eucharist was of this nature, but the King of 
Yugoslavia had always thought it might be so. 

I could not understand this event, no matter how often I saw 
this picture. I knew, of course, how and why the murder had 
happened. Luccheni has got on well in the world. When he 
killed Elizabeth, over forty years ago, he had to do his own work 
in the world, he had to travel humbly about Switzerland in 
search of his victims, he had but one little two-edged dagger as 
tool for his crime, and he had to pay the penalty. But now 
Luccheni is Mussolini, and the improvement in his circumstances 
can be measured by the increase in the magnitude of his crime. 
In Elizabeth the insecure and traditionless town-dweller struck 
down the symbol of power, but his modern representative has 
struck down power itself by assuming itself and degrading its 
essence. His offence is not that he has virtually deposed his 
king, for kings and presidents who cannot hold their office lose 
thereby the title to their kingdoms and republics. His offence 
is that he made himself dictator without binding himself by any 
of the contractual obligations which civilised man has imposed 
on his rulers in all creditable phases of history and which give 
power a soul to be saved. This cancellation of process in govern- 
ment leaves it an empty violence that must perpetually and at 
any cost outdo itself, for it has no alternative idea and hence no 
alternative activity. The long servitude in the slums has left 
this kind of barbarian without any knowledge of what man does 
when he ceases to be violent, except for a few uncomprehending 
glimpses of material prosperity. He therefore can conceive of 


no outlet for his energies other than the creation of social ser- 
vices which artificially and unnaturally spread this material pros- 
perity among the population, in small doses that keep them 
happy and dependent ; and, for his second string, there is the 
performance of fantasias on the single theme of brute force. All 
forms of compulsion are practised on any element within the 
state that is resistant or is even suspected of retaining conscious- 
ness of its difference from the dominating party ; and all living 
beings outside the state are conceived as enemies, to be hated 
and abused, and in ideal conditions to be robbed and murdered. 
This aggressiveness leads obviously to the establishment of 
immense armed forces, and furtively to incessant experimenta- 
tion with methods of injuring the outer world other than the 
traditional procedure of warfare. 

These methods, as time went on and Mussolini developed 
his foreign policy, included camps where Croats and Macedo- 
nians who objected to incorporation with Yugoslavia, or who 
were simply rogues, were trained as terrorists in the use of 
bombs and small arms and financed to use the results of that 
training in raids on Yugoslavia in the alleged service of their 
separatist campaigns. There could be no more convincing proof 
of the evil wrought on our civilisation by the great cities and 
their spawn, for in not one state in pre-war Europe could there 
have been found any such example of an institution designed to 
teach the citizens of another state to murder their rulers. The 
existence of these camps and the necessity felt by human beings 
to practise any art they have learned, explains the assassination 
of King Alexander without properly conveying its indecency. 
For Italy instructed her satellite, Hungary, to follow her example, 
and a notorious camp was established near the Yugoslav-Hun- 
garian border, at Yanka Puszta. Honour often seems a highly 
artificial convention, but life in any level of society where it has 
been abandoned astonishes by its tortuousness. When the 
Italians sent assassins from their training camps to murder the 
King, they went to great pains to make it appear that his 
murderers came from Yanka Puszta, even inducing a Macedo- 
nian assassin who had been associated with the Hungarian 
camp to come to Marseilles and be killed, so that his dead body 
could be exhibited as proof of the conspirators’ origin. It is a 
measure of the inevitable frivolity of a state governed by Fascist 
philosophy that the crime was entirely wasted and was com- 



mitted only because of a monstrous miscalculation. Mussolini 
had believed that with the King’s death the country would fall 
to pieces and be an easy prey to a foreign invader. But if Croat 
discontent had been a thousand times more bitter than it was, it 
would still have remained true that people prefer to kill their 
tyrants for themselves ; and actually the murder shocked Yugo- 
slavia into a unity it had not known before. So there was not 
war ; there was nothing except the accomplishment of a further 
stage in the infiltration of peace with the depravity of war, which 
threatens now to make the two hardly distinguishable. 

But the other participator in the event remained profoundly 
mysterious. At each showing of the film it could be seen more 
plainly that he had not been surprised by his own murder. He 
had not merely known of it as a factual possibility, he had 
realised it imaginatively in its full force as an event. But in 
this matter he seemed more intelligent than his own intelligence. 
Men of action often take an obstinate pride in their own limita- 
tions, and so, too, do invalids ; and his face hinted that he, being 
both sick and soldierly, had combined the two forms of fault. 
All that I could read of his reign confirmed this indication and 
showed him as inflexible and slow. Yet there was in him this 
great wisdom, which brought him to the hour of his death sus- 
tained by a just estimate of what it is to die, and by certain 
magnificent conceptions such as kingliness and patriotism. It 
would be an enigma were it not that an individual had other 
ways of acquiring wisdom than through his own intellectual 
equipment. He can derive it, as it were, through the pores 
from the culture of his race. Perhaps this peculiar wisdom 
which appeared on the screen as definitely as the peculiar sanity 
of Fran^oise Rosay or the peculiar narcissism of Garbo, was 
drawn by the King of Yugoslavia from the kingdom of Yugo- 
slavia, from the South Slavs. 

As to that I could form no opinion, for I knew nothing about 
the South Slavs, nor had I come across anybody who was 
acquainted with them. I was only aware that they formed part 
of the Balkan people, who had played a curious role in the 
history of British benevolence before the war and for some 
time after it. They had been, till they severally won their inde- 
pendences at various times in the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries, the Christian subjects of the Turkish or Ottoman 
Empire, which had kept them in the greatest misery by incom- 



petent administration and very cunningly set each section of 
them at odds with all the others, so that they could never rise 
in united rebellion. Hence each people was perpetually making 
charges of inhumanity against all its neighbours. The Serb, 
for example, raised his bitterest complaint against the Turk, 
but was also ready to accuse the Greeks, the Bulgarians, the 
Vlachs and the Albanians of every crime under the sun. English 
persons, therefore, of humanitarian and reformist disposition 
constantly went out to the Balkan Peninsula to see who was 
in fact ill-treating whom, and, being by the very nature of their 
perfectionist faith unable to accept the horrid hypothesis that 
everybody was ill-treating everybody else, all came back with 
a pet Balkan people established in their hearts as suffering 
and innocent, eternally the massacree and never the massacrer. 
The same sort of person, devoted to good works and austerities, 
who is traditionally supposed to keep a cat and a parrot, often 
set up on the hearth the image of the Albanian or the Bulgarian 
or the Serbian or the Macedonian Greek people, which had 
all the force and blandness of pious fantasy. The Bulgarians 
as preferred by some, and the Albanians as championed by 
others, strongly resembled Sir Joshua Reynolds’ picture of the 
Infant Samuel. 

But often it appeared that the Balkans had forced piety to 
work on some very queer material. To hear Balkan fanciers 
talk about each other’s Infant Samuels was to think of some 
painter not at all like Sir Joshua Reynolds, say Hieronymus 
Bosch. The cats and parrots must often have been startled. 
In 1912 there was a dispute, extravagantly inappropriate to those 
who took part in it, as to whether Mr. Prochaska, the Austrian 
Consul in a town named Prizren, had or had not been castrated 
by the Serbs. Mr. Prochaska, an unusually conscientious public 
servant, furthered his country's anti-Serbian policy by allowing 
it to be supposed that he had. The reception given to the story 
by the Viennese public can only be described as heartless, but 
it was taken more seriously in London, where persons of the 
utmost propriety became violent in their partisanship. England 
had been artless, and was to remain so, about atrocities. Our 
soldiers and sailors were wont to keep silence when they came 
back from those foreign parts where primitive cruelty still in- 
dulged its fantasies. But mild humanitarians to whom the idea 
of castration must have been a shocking novelty, choked, swal- 



lowed, and set themselves to discussing whether Mr. Prochaska’s 
misfortunes could be as they were said to be, and who had 
inflicted them, and how. The controversy raged until Professor 
Seton-Watson, who had no favourite among the Balkan peoples, 
but was strongly anti-Austrian, stated that he had himself had 
access to a confidential account from Mr. Prochaska, which made 
irclear that the operation had not been performed at all. In no 
other circumstances could one imagine that gentle and elevated 
character receiving communications which afforded that kind of 
information. No other cause espoused by Liberals so completely 
swept them off their feet by its own violence. The problems of 
India and Africa never produced anything like the jungle of 
savage pamphlets that sprang up in the footsteps of the Liberals 
who visited Turkey in Europe imder the inspiration of Gladstone. 

Violence was, indeed, all I knew of the Balkans : all I knew 
of the South Slavs. I derived the knowledge from memories of 
my earliest interest in Liberalism, of leaves fallen from this 
jungle of pamphlets, tied up with string in the dustiest corners 
of junk-shops, and later from the prejudices of the French, who 
use the word Balkan as a term of abuse, meaning a rastaquoulre 
type of barbarian. In Paris, awakened in a hotel bedroom by 
the insufficiently private life of my neighbours, I have heard the 
sound of three slashing slaps and a woman’s voice crying through 
sobs, “ Balkan ! Balkan ! ” Once in Nice, as I sat eating 
langouste outside a little restaurant down by the harbour, there 
were some shots, a sailor lurched out of the next-door bar, and 
the proprietress ran after him, shouting, " Balkan ! Balkan I " 
He had emptied his revolver into the mirror behind the bar. And 
now I was faced with the immense nobility of the King in the 
film, who was certainly Balkan, Balkan, but who met violence 
with an imaginative realisation which is its very opposite, which 
absorbs it into the experience it aims at destroying. But I must 
have been wholly mistaken in my acceptance of the popular 
legend regarding the Balkans, for if the South Slavs had been 
truly violent they would not have been hated first by the Austrians, 
who worshipped violence in an imperialist form, and later by 
the Fascists, who worship violence in a totalitarian form. Yet 
it was impossible to think of the Balkans for one moment as 
gentle and lamb-like, for assuredly Alexander and Draga 
Obrenovitch and Franz Ferdinand and his wife had none of 
them died in their beds. I had to admit that I quite simply 


and flatly knew nothing at all about the south-eastern corner 
of Europe ; and since there proceeds steadily from that place a 
stream of events which are a source of danger to me, which 
indeed for four years threatened my safety and during that 
time deprived me for ever of many benefits, that is to say I 
know nothing of my own destiny. 

That is a calamity. Pascal wrote : “ Man is but a reed, the 
most feeble thing in nature ; but he is a thinking reed. The 
entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapour, a 
drop of water, suffices to kill him. But if the universe were to 
crush him, man would still be more noble than that which 
killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage 
which the universe has over him ; the universe knows nothing 
of this.” In these words he writes the sole prescription for a 
distinguished humanity. We must learn to know the nature of 
the advantage which the universe has over us, which in my case 
seems to lie in the Balkan Peninsula. It w'as only two or three 
days distant, yet 1 had never troubled to go that short journey 
which might explain to me how I shall die, and why. While I 
was marvelling at my inertia, I was asked to go to Yugoslavia 
to give some lectures in different towns before universities and 
English clubs, and this I did in the spring of 1936. 

It was unfortunate that at the end of my journey I went to 
Greece and was stung by a sand-fly and got dengue fever, which 
is also known, and justly so, as breakbone fever. On the way 
back I had to rest in a Kurhaus outside Vienna, and there they 
thought me so ill that my husband came out to fetch me home. 
He found me weeping in my bedroom, though this is a town 
governed by its flowers, and as it was May the purple and white 
lilacs were as thick along the streets as people watching for a 
procession, and the chestnut trees were holding their candles to 
the windows of the upper rooms. I was well enough to be out, 
but I was sitting in a chair with a heap of coarse linen dresses 
flung over my knees and feet. I showed them to my husband 
one by one, saying in remorse, ” Look what I have let them do ! ” 
They were dresses which I had bought from the peasants in 
Macedonia, and the Austrian doctor who was treating me had 
made me have them disinfected, though they were quite clean. 
But the nurse who took them away had forgotten what was to 
be done with them, and instead of putting them under the lamp 
she had given them to the washerwoman, who had put them in 



strong soak. They were ruined. Dyes that had been fixed for 
twenty years, had run and now defiled the good grain of the 
stuff; stitches that had made a clean-cut austere design were 
now sordid smears. Even if I could have gone back immedi- 
ately and bought new ones, which in my weakness I wanted 
to do, I would have it on my conscience that 1 had not properly 
protected the work of these women which should have been 
kept as a testimony, which was a part of what the King had 
known as he lay dying. 

" You must not think me stupid,” I said to my husband ; 
“ you cannot understand why I think these dresses important ; 
you have not been there.” “ Is it so wonderful there ? ” he 
asked. " It is more wonderful than I can tell you,” I answered. 
“ But how ? " he said. I could not tell him at all clearly. I said, 
" Well, there is everything there. Except what we have. But 
that seems very little.” “ Do you mean that the English have 
very little ? ” he asked, “ Or the whole of the West ? ” “ The 
whole of the West,” I said, “ here too.” He looked at the butter- 
yellow baroque houses between the chestnut trees and laughed. 
" Beethoven and Mozart and Schubert wrote quite a lot of music 
in this town,” he said. ” But they were none of them happy,” I 
objected. ” In Yugoslavia,” suggested my husband, smiling, 
“ everybody is happy.” " No, no,” I said, “ not at all, but . . .” 
The thing I wanted to tell him could not be told, however, 
because it was manifold and nothing like what one is accus- 
tomed to communicate by words. I stumbled on, “ Really, we 
are not as rich in the West as we think we are. Or, rather, there 
is much we have not got which the people in the Balkans have 
got in quantity. To look at them you would think they had 
nothing. The people who made these dresses looked as if they 
had nothing at all. But if these imbeciles here had not spoiled 
this embroidery you would see that whoever did it had more 
than we have.” I saw the blue lake of Ochrid, the mosques of 
Sarajevo, the walled town of Korchula, and it appeared possible 
that I was unable to find words for what I wanted to say because 
it was not true. I am never sure of the reality of what I see, if I 
have only seen it once ; I know that until it has finnly estab- 
lished its objective existence by impressing my senses and my 
memory, I am capable of conscripting it into the service of a 
private dream. In a panic I said, “ I must go back to Yugo- 
slavia, this time next year, in the spring, for Easter.” 



W E spent the night at Salzburg, and in the morning vre 
had time to visit the house where Mozart was born, and 
look at his little spinet, which has keys that are brown 
and white instead of white and black. There the boy sat, pleased 
by its prettiness and pleased by the sounds he drew from it, while 
there encircled him the rage of his father at this tiresome, weak, 
philandering son he had begotten, who would make no proper 
use of his gifts ; and further back still the indifference of his 
contemporaries, which was to kill him ; and further back still, 
so far away as to be of no use to him, our impotent love for him. 
That was something we humans did not do very well. Then we 
went down to the railway station and waited some hours for the 
train to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. When it at last arrived, 
I found myself in the midst of what is to me the mystery of 
mysteries. For it had left Berlin the night before and was 
crammed with unhappy-looking German tourists, all taking 
advantage of the pact by which they could take a substantial sum 
out of the country provided they were going to Y ugoslavia ; and 
I cannot understand the proceedings of Germans. All Central 
Europe seems to me to be enacting a fantasy which I cannot 

The carriages were so crowded that we could only find one 
free seat in a first-class compartment, which I took, while my 
husband sat down in a seat which a young man had just left to 
go to the restaurant car for lunch. The other people in the 
compartment were an elderly business man and his wife, both 
well on in the fifties, and a manufacturer and his wife, socially 
superior to the others and fifteen to twenty years younger. The 
elderly business man and his wife, like nearly everybody else on 


the train, were hideous ; the woman had a body like a sow, 
and the man was flabby and pasty. The manufacturer was very 
much better-looking, with a direct laughing eye, but he was 
certainly two stone overweight, and his wife had been sharpened 
to a dark keen prettiness by some Hungarian strain. The 
business man's wife kept on leaving her seat and running up 
and down the corridor in a state of great distress, lamenting that 
she and her husband had no Austrian schillings and therefore 
could not get a meal in the restaurant car. Her distress was so 
marked that we assumed that they had eaten nothing for many 
hours, and we gave her a packet of chocolate and some biscuits, 
which she ate very quickly with an abstracted air. Between 
mouthfuls she explained that they were travelling to a Dalmatian 
island because her husband had been very ill with a nervous 
disorder affecting the stomach which made him unable to take 
decisions. She pointed a bitten bar of chocolate at him and 
said, “ Yes, he can’t make up his mind about anything ! If you 
say, ‘ Do you want to go or do you want to stay ? ’ he doesn’t 
know.” Grieving and faithful love shone in her eyes. My 
husband was very sympathetic, and said that he himself had 
nervous trouble of some sort. He even alleged, to my surprise, 
that he had passed through a similar period of not knowing 
his own mind. Sunshine, he said, he had found the only cure. 

But as she spoke her eyes shifted over my husband’s shoulders 
and she cried, " Ah, now we are among beautiful mountains I 
Wunderbar ! Fabelhaft ! Ach, these must be the Dolomites ! ” 
” No, these are not the Dolomites,” said my husband, " this is 
the valley that runs up to Bad Gastein,” and he told her that in 
the sixteenth century this had been a district of great wealth and 
culture, because it had been a gold-mining centre. He pointed 
out the town of Hof Gastein and described the beautiful Gothic 
tombs of mineowners in the church there, which are covered 
with carvings representing stages of the mining process. Every- 
body in the carriage listened to this with sudden proud exclama- 
tory delight ; it was as if they were children, and my husband 
were reading them a legend out of a book about their glorious 
past. They seemed to derive a special pious pleasure from the 
contemplation of the Gothic ; and they were also enraptured by 
the perfection of my husband’s German. 

" But it is real German German ! ” they said, as if they 
were complimenting him on being good as well as clever. 


Suddenly the manufacturer said to him, " But have 3mu really 
got first-class tickets ? " My husband said in surprise, “ Yes, 
of course we have ; here they are.” Then the manufacturer 
said, “ Then you can keep the seat where you are sitting, for 
the young man who had it has only a second-class ticket 1 ” 
The others all eagerly agreed. " Yes, yes,” they said, “ cer- 
tainly you must stay where you are, for he has only a second- 
class ticket ! ” The business man’s wife jumped up and stopped 
a passing ticket-collector and told him about it with great 
passion and many defensive gestures towards us, and he too 
became excited and sympathetic. He promised that, as lunch 
was now finished and people were coming back from the 
restaurant car, he would wait for the young man and eject 
him. It was just then that the business man’s wife noticed 
that we were rising into the snowhelds at the head of the pass 
and cried out in rapture. This too was wunderbar and fabelhaft, 
and the whole carriage was caught up into a warm lyrical 
ecstasy. Snow, apparently, was certified in the philosophy as a 
legitimate object for delight, like the Gothic. For this I liked 
them enormously. Not only was it an embryonic emotion 
which, fully developed and shorn of its sentimentality, would 
produce great music of the Beethoven and Brahms and Mahler 
type, but it afforded an agreeable contrast to the element I most 
dislike. If anyone in a railway carriage full of English people 
should express great enjoyment of the scenery through which 
the train was passing, his companions would feel an irresistible 
impulse not only to refrain from joining him in his pleasure, 
but to persuade themselves that there was something despicable 
and repellent in that scenery. No conceivable virtue can proceed 
from the development of this characteristic. 

At the height of this collective rhapsody the young man with 
the second-class ticket came back. He had been there for a 
minute or two before anybody, even the ticket-collector, noticed 
his presence. He was standing in the middle of the compart- 
ment, not even understanding that his seat had been taken, as my 
husband was at the window, when the business man’s wife became 
aware of him. " Oho-o-o-o ! ” she cried with frightful signifi- 
cance : and everybody turned on him with such vehemence that 
he stood stock-still with amazement, and the ticket-collector had 
to pull him by the sleeve and tell him to take his luggage and 
be gone. The vehemence of all four Germans was so intense 


that we took it for granted that it must be due to some other 
reason than concern for our comfort, and supposed the explana- 
tion lay in the young man's race and personality, for he was 
Latin and epicene. His oval olive face was meek with his ac- 
ceptance of the obligation to please, and he wore with a demure 
coquetry a suit, a shirt, a tie, socks, gloves and a hat all in the 
colours of coffee-and-cream of various strengths. The labels 
on his suitcase suggested he was either an actor or a dancer, 
and indeed his slender body was as unnaturally compressed by 
exercise as by a corset. Under this joint attack he stood quite 
still with his head down and his body relaxed, not in indiffer- 
ence, but rather because his physical training had taught him 
to loosen his muscles when he was struck so that he should fall 
light. There was an air of practice about him, as if he were 
thoroughly used to being the object of official hostility, and a 
kind of passive, not very noble fortitude ; he was quite sure he 
would survive this, and would be able to walk away unhurt. 
We were distressed, but could not believe we were responsible, 
since the feeling of the Germans was so passionate ; and indeed 
this young man was so different from them that it was conceiv- 
able they felt as hippopotamuses at the Zoo might feel if a 
cheetah were introduced into their cage. 

By the time he had left us the train was drawing in to Bad 
Gastein. The business man’s wife was upset because she 
could get nothing to eat there. The trolleys carrying chocolate 
and coffee and oranges and sandwiches were busy with another 
train when we arrived, and they started on our train too late to 
arrive at our carriage. She said that she did not mind so much 
for herself as for her husband. He had had nothing since break- 
fast at Munich except some sausages and coffee at Passau and 
some ham sandwiches at Salzburg. As he had also eaten some 
of the chocolate and biscuits we had given her, it seemed to us 
he had not done so badly for a man with a gastric ailment. Then 
silence fell on her, and she sat down and dangled her short legs 
while we went through the very long tunnel under the Hohe 
Tauern mountains. This tunnel represents no real frontier. 
They were still in Austria, and they had left Germany early that 
morning. Yet when we came out on the other side all the four 
Germans began to talk quickly and freely, as if they no longer 
feared something. The manufacturer and his wife told us that 
they were going to Hertseg Novi, a village on the South 


Dalmatian coast, to bathe. They said he was tired out by various 
difficulties which had arisen in the management of his business 
during the last few months. At that the business man put his 
forehead down on his hand and groaned. Then they all laughed 
at their own distress ; and they all began to tell each other how 
badly they had needed this holiday they were taking, and what 
pension terms they v/ere going to pay, and by what date they 
had to be back in Germany, and to discuss where they were 
allowed to go as tourists and how much money they would have 
been allowed if they had gone to other countries and in what 
form they would have had to take it. The regulations which 
bound them were obviously of an inconvenient intricacy, for 
they frequently disputed as to the details ; and indeed they 
frequently uttered expressions of despair at the way they were 
hemmed in and harried. 

They talked like that for a long time. Then somebody came 
and told the business man’s wife that she could, after all, have a 
meal in the restaurant car. She ran out in a great hurry, and 
the rest of us all fell silent. I read for a time and then slept ; 
and woke up just as the train was running into Villach, which is 
a lovely little Austrian town set on a river. At Villach the 
business man’s wife was overjoyed to find she could buy some 
sausages for herself and her husband. All through the journey 
she was eating voraciously, running after food down the corridor, 
coming back munching something, her mouth and bust powdered 
with crumbs. But there was nothing so voluptuous as greed 
about all this eating. She was simply stoking herself with food 
to keep her nerves going, as ill and tired people drink. Actually 
she was an extremely pleasant and appealing person : she was 
all goodness and kindness, and she loved her husband very 
much. She took great pleasure in bringing him all this food, 
and she liked pointing out to him anything beautiful that we 
were passing. When she had got him to give his attention to it, 
she looked no more at the beautiful thing but only at his face. 
When we were going by the very beautiful Worther See, which 
lay under the hills, veiled by their shadows and the dusk so that 
one could attribute to it just the kind of beauty one prefers, she 
made him look at it, looked at him looking at it, and then turned 
to us and said, ” You cannot think what troubles he has had 1 ” 
We made sympathetic noises, and the business man began to 
grumble away at his ease. It appeared that he owned an apart- 


ment house in Berlin, and had for six months been struggling 
with a wholly unforeseen and inexplicable demand for extra 
taxes on it. He did not allege that the tax was unjust. He 
seemed to think that the demand was legal enough, but that the 
relevant law was so complicated and was so capriciously inter- 
preted by the Nazi courts, that he had been unable to foresee 
how much he would be asked for, and was still quite at a loss to 
calculate what might be exacted in the future. He had also had 
a great deal of trouble dealing with some undesirable tenants, 
whose conduct had caused frequent complaints from other 
tenants, but who were members of the Nazi party. He left it 
ambiguous whether he had tried to evict the undesirable tenants 
and had been foiled by the N azis, or if he had been too frightened 
even to try to get redress. 

At that the manufacturer and his wife sighed, and said that 
they could understand. The man spoke with a great deal of 
reticence and obviously did not want to give away exactly what 
his business was, lest he should get into difBculties ; but he said 
with great resentment that the Nazis had put a director into his 
company who knew nothing and was simply a Party man in line 
for a job. He added, however, that what he really minded was 
the unforeseeable taxes. He laughed at the absurdity of it all, 
for he was a brave and jolly man ; but the mere fact that he 
stopped giving us details of his worries, when he was obviously 
extremely expansive by temperament, showed that his spirit was 
deeply troubled. Soon he fell silent and put his arm round his 
wife. The two had an air of being united by a great passion, an 
unusual physical sympathy, and also by a common endurance 
of stress and strain, to a degree which would have seemed more 
natural in far older people. To cheer him up the wife told us 
funny stories about some consequences of Hitlerismus. She 
described how the hairdresser’s assistant who had always waved 
her hair for her had one morning greeted her with tears, and 
told her that she was afraid she would never be able to attend to 
her again, because she was afraid she had failed in the examina- 
tion which she had to pass for the right to practise her craft. 
She had said to the girl, " But 1 am sure you will pass your 
examination, for you are so very good at your work.” But the 
girl had answered, “ Yes, I am good at my work ! Shampooing 
can I do, and water-waving can I do, and marcelling can I do, 
and oil massage can I do, and hair-dyeing can I do, but keep from 


mixing up Goering’s and Goebbels* birthday, that can I not do.” 
They all laughed at this, and then again fell silent. 

The business man said, “ But all the young people they are 
solid for Hitler. For them all is done.” 

The others said, ” Ja, das ist so ! ” and the business woman 
began " Yes, our sons,” and then stopped. 

They were all of them falling to pieces under the emotional 
and intellectual strain laid on them by their Government, poor 
Laocoons strangled by red tape. It was obvious that by getting 
the population into this state the Nazis had guaranteed the 
continuance of their system ; for none of these people could 
have given any effective support to any rival party that wanted 
to seize power, and indeed their affairs, which were thoroughly 
typical, were in such an inextricable state of confusion that no 
sane party would now wish to take over the government, since 
it would certainly see nothing but failure ahead. Their misery 
seemed to have abolished every possible future for them. 1 
reflected that if a train were filled with the citizens of the Western 
Roman Empire in the fourth century they would have made 
much the same complaints. The reforms of Diocletian and 
Constantine created a condition of exorbitant and unforeseeable 
taxes, of privileged officials, of a complicated civil administra- 
tion that made endless demands on its subjects and gave them 
very little security in return. The Western Romans were put 
out of their pain by the invasion of the Goths. But these people 
could not hope for any such release. It was like the story of the 
man who went to Dr. Abernethy, complaining of hopeless 
melancholy, and was advised to go and see the famous clown, 
Grimaldi. " I am Grimaldi," he said. These men and women, 
incapable of making decisions or enforcing a condition where 
they could make them, were the Goths. 

It was dark when we crossed the Yugoslavian frontier. 
Handsome young soldiers in olive uniforms with faces sealed by 
the flatness of cheekbones, asked us questions softly, insistently, 
without interest. As we steamed out of the station, the manu- 
facturer said with a rolling laugh, " Well, we'll have no more 
good food till we’re back here again. The food in Yugoslavia 
is terrible.” " Ach, so we have heard," wailed the business 
man’s wife, “ and what shall I do with my poor man ! There is 
nothing good at all, is there ? ” This seemed to me extremely 
funny, for food in Yugoslavia has a Slav superbness. They cook 


Iamb and sucking-pig as well as anywhere in the world, have a 
lot of freshwater fish and broil it straight out of the streams, use 
their vegetables young enough, have many dark and rich 
romantic soups, and understand that seasoning should be 
pungent rather than hot. I said, " You needn’t worry at all. 
Yugoslavian food is very good.” The manufacturer laughed 
and shook his head. “ No, I was there in the war and it was 
teiribld.” "Perhaps it was at that time,” I said, “but I was 
there last year, and 1 found it admirable.” They all shook their 
heads at me, smiling, and seemed a little embarrassed. I per- 
ceived they felt that English food was so far inferior to German 
that my opinion on the subject could not be worth having, and 
that I was rather simple and ingenuous not to realise this. “ I 
understand,” ventured my husband, " that there are very good 
trout.” “ Ach, no ! ” laughed the manufacturer, waving his 
great hand, “ they call them trout, but they are something quite 
different ; they are not like our good German trout.” They all 
sat, nodding and rocking, entranced by a vision of the warm 
goodness of German life, the warm goodness of German food, 
and of German superiority to all non-German barbarity. 

A little while later my husband and I went and had dinner 
in the wagon-restaurant, which was Yugoslavian and ex- 
tremely good. When we came back the business man was 
telling how, sitting at his desk in his office just after the war, 
he had seen the bodies of three men fall past his windows, 
Spartacist snipers who had been on his roof and had been 
picked off by Government troops ; how he had been ruined in 
the inflation, and had even sold his dog for food ; how he had 
made a fortune again, by refinancing of a prosperous industry, 
but had never enjoyed it because he had always been afraid of 
Bolshevism, and had worried himself ill finding the best ways 
of tying it up safely ; and now he was afraid. He had spent the 
last twenty-three years in a state of continuous terror. He had 
been afraid of the Allies ; he had been afraid of the Spartacists ; 
he had been afraid of financial catastrophe ; he had been afraid 
of the Communists ; and now he was afraid of the Nazis. 

Sighing deeply, he said, evidently referring to something 
about which he had not spoken, " The worst of life under the 
Nazis is that the private citizen hasn’t any liberty, but the 
officials haven’t any authority either.” It was curious that such 
a sharply critical phrase should have been coined by one whose 


attitude was so purely passive ; for he had spoken of all the 
forces that had tormented him as if they could not have been 
opposed, any more than thunder or lightning. He seemed, 
indeed, quite unpolitically minded. When he complained of the 
inflation, my husband tried to console him by saying that the 
suflierings he and others had undergone at that time may have 
been severe, but they had at least been of immense service to 
Germany ; that Helffcrich had been justified in his heroic plan, 
since it had wiped out the internal debt and cleared the ground 
for enterprising people to make a new and triumphant in- 
dustrialism. But the business man, though he had himself 
actually been one of those enterprising men, did not show any 
interest in the idea. He seemed quite unused to regarding 
anything that the state did as having a cause or any but the 
most immediate effect. 

Just then I happened to see the name of a station at which 
we were stopping, and I asked my husband to look it up in a 
time-table he had in his pocket, so that we might know how 
late we were. And it turned out that we were very late indeed, 
nearly two hours. When my husband spoke of this all the 
Germans showed the greatest consternation. They realised that 
this meant they would almost certainly get in to Zagreb too late 
to catch the connection which would take them the twelve hours’ 
journey to Split, on the Dalmatian coast, and in that case they 
would have to spend the night at Zagreb. It was not easy to see 
why they were so greatly distressed. Both couples were staying 
in Yugoslavia for some weeks and the loss of a day could not 
mean much to them ; and they could draw as they liked on 
their dinars in the morning. The business man’s wife was 
adding another agony to the strain of the situation. For it was 
still just possible that we might get to Zagreb in time to bundle 
into the Split train, and she was not sure if she ought to do that, 
as her husband was so tired. The necessity for making a 
decision on this plan caused her real anguish ; she sat wringing 
her poor red hands. To us it seemed the obvious thing that they 
should simply make up their minds to stay the night, but it was 
not at all obvious to them. She looked so miserable that we gave 
her some biscuits, which she crammed into her mouth exactly 
like an exhausted person taking a pull of brandy. The other 
two had decided to stay at Zagreb, but they were hardly in a 
better state. Consciousness of their own fatigue had rushed 


upon them ; they were amazed at it, they groaned and com- 

I realised again that I would never understand the German 
people. The misery of these travellers was purely amazing. It 
was perplexing that they should have been surprised by the 
lateness of the train. The journey from Berlin to Zagreb is 
something like thirty hours, and no sensible person would expect 
a minor train to be on time on such a route in winter, particularly 
as a great part of it runs through the mountains. It also seemed 
to me odd that the business man’s wife should take it as an 
unforeseen horror that her husband, who had been seriously ill 
and was not yet recovered, should be tired after sitting up in a 
railway carriage for a day and a night. Also, if she had such an 
appetite why had she not brought a tin of biscuits and some 
ham ? And how was it that these two men, who had successfully 
conducted commercial and industrial enterprises of some import- 
ance, were so utterly incompetent in the conduct of a simple 
journey ? As I watched them in complete mystification, yet 
another consideration came to horrify them. “ And what the 
hotels in Zagreb will be like ! ” said the manufacturer. " Pig- 
sties ! Pig-sties ! ” " Oh, my poor husband ! ” moaned the 
business man’s wife. “ To think he is to be uncomfortable when 
he is so ill ! " I objected that the hotels in Zagreb were excel- 
lent ; that I myself had stayed in an old-fashioned hotel which 
was extremely comfortable and that there was a new and huge 
hotel that was positively American in its luxury. But they would 
not listen to me. “ But why are you going to Yugoslavia if you 
think it is all so terrible?” I asked. ”Ah,” said the manu- 
facturer, “ we are going to the Adriatic coast where there are 
many German tourists and for that reason the hotels are good." 

Then came a climactic mystification. There came along the 
first Yugoslavian ticket-collector, a red-faced, ugly, amiable 
Croat. The Germans all held out their tickets, and lo and 
behold 1 They were all second-class. My husband and I gaped 
in bewilderment. It made the campaign they had conducted 
against the young man in cofiFee-and-cream clothes completely 
incomprehensible and not at all pleasing. If they had been 
nasty people it would have been natural enough ; but they were 
not at all nasty, they loved each other, tranquillity, snow and 
their national history. Nevertheless they were unabashed by the 
disclosure of what my husband and I considered the most 


monstrous perfidy. I realised that if I had said to them, '* You 
had that young man turned out of the carriage because he had a 
second-class ticket,’’ they would have nodded and said, " Yes,” 
and if I had gone on and said, “ But you yourselves have only 
second-class tickets,” they would not have seen that the second 
statement had any bearing on the first ; and I cannot picture to 
myself the mental life of people who cannot perceive that con- 

But as we gaped we were plunged into yet another mystifi- 
cation. The Croat ticket-collector told the Germans that they 
must pay the difference between the first-class and the second- 
class fares from the frontier. It amounted to very little, to only a 
few marks a head. The Germans protested, on the ground that 
not enough second-class carriages had been provided in Berlin, 
but the Croat explained that that was not his business, nor the 
Yugoslavian Railway Company’s. The German authorities 
made up the train, and it was their fault if it were not properly 
constituted. The Yugoslavian Railway Company simply 
accepted the train, and on its line passengers must pay for the 
seats they occupied. At that the manufacturer winked at him 
and held out a hand to him with a bribe in it. The Croat was so 
poor, his hand curved for it in spite of himself. But he explained 
that he could not settle it that way, because an inspector might 
come along, and he would lose his job, for on this matter the 
company was really strict. The manufacturer persisted, smiling. 

I nearly bounced out of my seat, for the ticket-collector was so 
poor that he was grinning with desire for the money, while his 
eyebrows were going up in fear. It was not fair to tempt him to 
take this risk. I also wondered why these people, who were 
sure that Yugoslavia was a land of barbarians, dared put them- 
selves on the wrong side of the law within a few hours of crossing 
the frontier. 

As I wondered, the ticket-collector suddenly lost his temper. 
His red face became violet, he began to shout. The Germans 
showed no resentment and simply began to get the money 
together ; yet if anybody had shouted at me like that, I should 
have shouted back, no matter how much in the wrong I was. 
In this they showed a marked superiority over me. But in their 
efforts to make payment they became again flatly incomprehen- 
sible. They could pay it in marks, and the amount was much 
less than the marks they had been allowed to take out of the 


country, and had in fact taken. Nevertheless they had great 
difficulty in paying, for the incredible reason that not one of 
them knew exactly where his money was. They had to turn oul 
pockets and bags and purses, they had to give each other change, 
they had to do reckonings and correct each other, and they 
groaned all the time at this inconvenience which was entirely 
their own fault. 

I got up and went out into the corridor. It was disconcerting 
to be rushing through the night with this carriageful of unhappy 
muddlers, who were so nice and so incomprehensible, and so 
apparently doomed to disaster of a kind so special that it was 
impossible for anybody not of their blood to imagine how it 
could be averted. It added to their eerie quality that on paper 
these people would seem the most practical and sensible people. 
Their businesses were, I am sure, most efficiently conducted. 
But this only meant that since the industrial revolution capital- 
ism has grooved society with a number of deep slots along 
which most human beings can roll smoothly to a fixed destina- 
tion. When a man takes charge of a factory the factory takes 
charge of him, if he opens an office it falls into a place in a net- 
work that extends over the whole world and so long as he obeys 
the general trend he will not meet any obvious disaster ; but he 
may be unable to meet the calls that daily life outside this 
specialist area makes on judgment and initiative. These people 
fell into that category. Their helplessness was the greater 
because they had plainly a special talent for obedience. In the 
routine level of commerce and industry they must have known a 
success which must have made their failure in all other phases 
of their being embittering and strange. Now that capitalism 
was passing into a decadent phase and many of the grooves 
along which they had rolled so happily were worn down to 
nothing, they were broken and beaten, and their ability to 
choose the broad outlines of their daily lives, to make political 
decisions, was now less than it had been originally. It was 
inevitable that the children of such muddlers, who would them- 
selves be muddlers, would support any system which offered 
them new opportunities for profitable obedience, which would 
pattern society with new grooves in place of the old, and would 
never be warned by any instinct for competence and self-pre- 
servation if that system was leading to universal disaster. I 
tried to tell myself that these people in the carriage were not of 

VOL. 1 D 


importance, and were not typical, but I knew that I lied. These 
were exactly like all Aryan Germans I had ever known ; and 
there were sixty millions of them in the middle of Europe. 

" This is Zagreb ! ” cried the Germans, and took all their 
iuEE^ge down from the racks. Then they broke into excessive 
cries of exasperation and distress because it was not Zagreb, it 
was Zagreb-Sava, a suburb three or four miles out of the main 
town. I leaned out of the window. Rain was falling heavily, 
and the mud shone between the railway tracks. An elderly 
man, his thin body clad in a tight-fitting, fiimsy overcoat, trotted 
along beside the train, crying softly, “ Anna ! Anna 1 Anna 1 ” 
He held an open umbrella not over himself but at arm’s length. 
He had not brought it for himself, but for the beloved woman he 
was calling. He did not lose hope when he found her nowhere 
in all the long train, but turned and trotted all the way back, 
calling still with anxious sw-eetness, " Anna ! Anna I Anna I " 
When the train steamed out he was trotting along it for a third 
time, holding his umbrella still further away from him. A ray 
of light from an electric standard shone on his white hair, on the 
dome of his umbrella, which was streaked with several rents, 
and on the strong spears of the driving rain. I was among 
people I could understand. 



Zagreb I 

T hey were waiting in the rain on the platform of the real 
Zagrebj our three friends. There was Constantine, the 
poet, a Serb, that is to say a Slav member of the Orthodox 
Church, from Serbia. There was Valetta, a lecturer in Mathe- 
matics at Zagreb University, a Croat, that is to say a Slav 
member of the Roman Catholic Church, from Dalmatia. There 
was Marko Gregorievitch, the critic and journalist, a Croat from 
Croatia. They were all different sizes and shapes, in body 
and mind. 

Constantine is short and fat, with a head like the best-known 
Satyr in the Louvre, and an air of vine-leaves about the brow, 
though he drinks little. He is perpetually drunk on what comes 
out of his mouth, not what goes into it. He talks incessantly. 
In the morning he comes out of his bedroom in the middle of a 
sentence ; and at night he backs into it, so that he can just 
finish one more sentence. Automatically he makes silencing 
gestures while he speaks, just in case somebody should take 
it into his head to interrupt Nearly all his talk is good, and 
sometimes it runs along in a coloured shadow show, like Heine’s 
Florentine Nights, and sometimes it crystallises into a little 
story the essence of hope or love or regret, like a Heine lyric. 
Of all human beings I have ever met he is the most like Heine : 
and since Heine was the most Jewish of writers it follows that 
Constantine is Jew as well as Serb. His father was a Jewish 
doctor of revolutionary sympathies, who fled from Russian 
Poland about fifty years ago and settled in a rich provincial town 
in Serbia and became one of the leaders of the medical profes- 
sion, which has always been more advanced there than one 



might have supposed. His mother was also a Polish Jewess, 
and was a famous musician. He is by adoption only, yet quite 
completely, a Serb. He fought in the Great War very gallantly, 
for he is a man of great physical courage, and to him Serbian 
history is his history, his life is a part of the life of the Serbian 
people. He is now a Government official ; but that is not the 
reason why he believes in Yugoslavia. To him a state of Serbs, 
Slovenes and Croats, controlled by a central government in 
Belgrade, is a necessity if these peoples were to maintain them- 
selves against Italian and Central European pressure on the 
west, and Bulgarian pressure, which might become in effect 
Central European pressure, in the east. 

Valetta comes from a Dalmatian town which was settled by 
the Greeks some hundreds of years before Christ, and he has the 
strong delicacy and the morning freshness of an archaic statue. 
They like him everywhere he goes, Paris and London and 
Berlin and Vienna, but he is hall-marked as a Slav, because his 
charm is not associated with any of those defects that commonly 
go with it in other races. He might suddenly stop smiling and 
clench his long hands, and offer himself up to martyrdom for an 
idea. He is anti- Yugoslavian ; he is a federalist and believes in 
an autonomous Croatia. 

Gregorievitch looks like Pluto in the Mickey Mouse films. 
His face is grooved with grief at the trouble and lack of gratitude 
he has encountered while defending certain fixed and noble 
standards in a chaotic world. His long body is like Pluto’s in its 
extensibility. As he sits in his armchair, resentment at what he 
conceives to be a remediable injustice will draw him inches 
nearer to the ceiling, despair at an inevitable wrong will crumple 
him up like a concertina. Yugoslavia is the Mickey Mouse this 
Pluto serves. He is ten years older than Constantine, who is 
forty-six, and thirty years older than Valetta. This means that 
for sixteen years before the war he was an active revolutionary, 
fighting against the Hungarians for the right of Croats to govern 
themselves and to use their own language. In order that the 
Croats might be united with their free brother Slavs the Serbs, 
he endured poverty and imprisonment and exile. Therefore 
Yugoslavia is to him the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Who 
speaks more lightly of it spits on those sixteen years of sorrow, 
who raises his hand against it violates the Slav sacrament. So 
to him Constantine, who was still a student in Paris when the 



Great War broke out, and who had been born a free Serb, seems 
impious in the way he takes Yugoslavia for granted. There is 
the difference between them that there was between the Chris- 
tians of the first three centuries, who fought for their faith when 
it seemed a lost cause, and the Christians of the fourth century 
who fought for it when it was victorious. 

And to Gregorievitch Valetta is quite simply a traitor. He 
is more than an individual who has gone astray, he is the very 
essence of treachery incarnate. Youth should uphold the banner 
of the right against unjust authority, and should practise that 
form of obedience to God which is rebellion against tyranny ; 
and it seems to Gregorievitch that Valetta is betraying that 
ideal, for to him Yugoslavia represents a supreme gesture of 
defiance against the tyranny of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 
Only a sorcerer could make him realise that the Austro-Hun- 
garian Empire ceased to be when Valetta was six years old, and 
that he has never known any other symbol of unjust authority 
exeept Yugoslavia. 

They are standing in the rain, and they are all different and 
they are all the same. They greet us warmly, and in their 
hearts they cannot greet each other, and they dislike us a little 
because it is to meet us that they are standing beside their 
enemies in the rain. We are their friends, but we are made 
from another substance. The rich passions of Constantine, the 
intense, graceful, selected joys and sorrows of Valetta, and 
Gregorievitch 's gloomy Great Danish nobility, are all cut from 
the same primary stuff, though in very dissimilar shapes. 
Sitting in our hotel room, drinking wine, they showed their 
unity of origin. A door opens, they twitch and swivel their 
heads, and the movement is the same. When these enemies 
advance on each other, they must move at the same tempo. 

My husband has not met any of them before. I see him 
transfixed by their strangeness. He listens amazed to Con- 
stantine’s beautiful French, which has preserved in it all the 
butterfly brilliances of his youth, when he was one of Bergson’s 
favourite students, and was making his musical studies with 
Wanda Landowska. He falls under the spell of Constantine. 
He strains forward to catch the perfect phrase that is bound to 
come when Constantine’s eyes catch the light, and each of his 
tight black curls spins on his head, and his lips shoot out hori- 
zontally, and his hands grope in the air before him as if he were 


unloosing the neckcloth of the strangling truth. Now Con- 
stantine was talking of Bergson and saying that it was to miss 
the very essence in him to regard him only as a philosopher. 
He was a magician who had taken philosophy as his subject 
matter. He did not analyse phenomena, he uttered incantations 
that invoked understanding. " We students," said Constantine, 
" we were not the pupils of a great professor, we were the 
sorcerer’s apprentices. We did strange things that are not in 
most academic courses. On Sundays we would talk together 
in the forest of Fontainebleau, all day long sometimes, recon- 
stituting his lectures by pooling our memories. For, you see, 
in his class-room it was not possible to take notes. If we bent 
our heads for one moment to take down a point, we missed an 
organic phrase, and the rest of the lecture appeared incompre- 
hensible. That shows he was a magician. For what is the 
essential of a spell ? That if one word is left out it is no longer 
a spell. I was able to recognise that at once, for in my town, 
which is Shabats, there were three houses in a row, and in one 
house lived my father who was the greatest doctor in our 
country, and in the next there lived a priest who was the greatest 
saint in my country, and in the next there lived an old woman 
who was the greatest witch in my country, and when I was a 
little boy I lived in the first of these houses and I went as 1 
would into the other two, for the holy man and the witch liked 
me very much, and 1 tell you in each of these houses there was 
magic, so 1 know all about it as most men do not." 

A line of light ran along the dark map of Europe we all of 
us hold in our minds ; at one end a Serbian town, unknown to 
me as Ur, peopled with the personnel of fairy-tales, and at the 
other end the familiar idea of Bergson. My husband, I could 
sec, was enraptured. He loves to learn what he did not know 
before. But in a minute I could see that he was not so happy. 
Valctta had said that he was making plans for our pleasure in 
Yugoslavia, and that he hoped that we would be able to go up 
into the snow mountains, particularly if we liked winter sports. 
My husband said he was very fond of Switzerland, and how he 
enjoyed going over there when he was tired and handing himself 
over to the care of the guides. " Yes, the guides are so good for 
us, who are over-civilised,” said Constantine. " They refresh 
us immensely, when we are with them. For they succeed at 
every point where we fail. We can be responsible for what we 



love, our families and our countries, and the causes we think 
just, but where we do not love we cannot muster the necessary 
attention. That is just what the glides do, with such a wealth 
of attention that it amounts to nothing comparable to our 
attention at all, to a mystical apprehension of the whole universe. 

" I will give you,” he said, “ an example. I made once a 
most beautiful journey in Italy with my wife. She is a German, 
you know, and she worships Goethe, so this was a pilgrimage. 
We went to see where he had lived in Venice and Rome, and 
she was so delighted, you cannot believe, delighted deep in 
herself, so that her intuition told her many things. ‘ That is the 
house where he lived ! ’ she cried in Venice, jumping up and 
down in the gondola, and it was so. At length we came to 
Naples, and we took a guide and went up Vesuvius, because 
Goethe went up Vesuvius. Do you remember the passage where 
he says he was on the edge of a little crater, and he slipped ? 
That was much in my wife’s mind, and suddenly it was given 
to her to know by intuition that a certain little crater we saw 
was that same one where Goethe had slipped, so before we could 
stop it she ran down to it. I saw, of course, that she might be 
killed at any moment, so I ran after her. But so did the guide, 
though she was nothing to him. And then came the evidence of 
this mystic apprehension which is given by the constant vigilance 
of a guide’s life. Just then this crater began to erupt, and the 
lava burst out here and there and here. But always the guide 
knew where it was coming, and took us to the left or the right, 
wherever it was not. Sometimes there was barely time for us 
to be there for more than a second ; that was proved afterwards 
because the soles of our shoes were scorched. For three- 
quarters of an hour we ran thus up and down, from right to 
left and from left to right, before we could get to safety ; and 
I was immensely happy the whole time because the guide was 
doing something I could not have done, which it is good to do ! ” 

During the telling of this story my husband’s eyes rested on 
me with an expression of alarm. It was apparent from Con- 
stantine’s tone that nothing in the story had struck him as odd 
except the devotion of the guide to his charges. “ Are not her 
friends very dotty ? ” he was plainly asking himself. " Is this 
how she wants to live ? ” But the conversation took a business- 
like turn, and we were called on to consider our plans. We 
must meet So-and-so and Such-and-such, of course. It became 


obvious from certain reticence that the strained relations 
between Croats and Serbs were making themselves felt over our 
plans. For So-and-so, it appeared, would not meet Such-and- 
such, and that, it could be deduced, was the reason. Suddenly 
such reticences were blown away by a very explicit wrangle 
about Y., the editor of a certain newspaper. " Oh, you should 
meet him, he would interest you,’’ said Valetta. “ Yes, he has 
a very remarkable mind,” admitted Constantine. “ No,” 
exploded Gregorievitch. They squabbled for a time in Serbian. 
Then Gregorievitch shrugged his shoulders and said to us, with 
heavy lightness, " Y. is not an honest man, that is all I ” “ He 
is perfectly honest,” said Valetta coldly. " Gregorievitch, you 
are an impossibilist,” said Constantine mildly. " Let our 
English guests judge,” said Pluto grimly. 

It appeared that one day some years before Pluto had rung 
up Y. and reminded him that it w'as the next week the centenary 
of a certain Croat poet, and asked him if he would like an article 
on him. Y. said that he would, and Pluto sent an article four 
columns long, including two quotations concerning liberty. 
But the article had to be submitted to the censor, who at that 
particular time and in that particular place happened to be 
Pluto. He sent it back to Y. cut by a column and a half, includ- 
ing both quotations. Then, if we would believe it, Y. had rung 
up Pluto on the telephone and been most abusive, and never 
since then had he accepted one single article from Pluto. 
” Surely,” said Pluto, immensely tall and grey and wrinkled, 
” he must have seen that I had to do what I did. To be true to 
myself as a critic I had to write the article as I did. But to be 
true to myself as a censor, I had to cut it as I did. In which 
capacity did he hope that I would betray my ideals ? ” As he 
related this anecdote his spectacles shone with the steady glare 
of a strong man justly enraged. 

But that story I could understand. It proceeds not, as might 
be thought, from incoherence but from a very high and too rigid 
sense of order. There lingers here a survival of an old attitude 
towards status that the whole world held, in days which were 
perhaps happier. Now, we think that if a man takes an office, 
he will modify it according to what he is as a man, according to 
his temperament and official standards. But then it was taken 
for granted that a man would modify his temperament and his 
ethical standards according to his office, provided it were of 



any real importance. In the third and fourth centuries Christian 
congregations were constantly insisting on electing people as 
bishops who were unwilling to accept the office, perhaps for 
some such valid reason as that they were not even Christians, 
but who seemed to have the ability necessary for the semi- 
magisterial duties of the episcopacy. Sometimes these men were 
so reluctant that the congregation were obliged to kidnap them 
and ordain them forcibly. But once they were installed as 
Bishops, they often performed their duties admirably. They 
had a sense of social structure, they were aware that bishops, 
who had by then taken over most of the civil administration 
that the crumbling Roman Empire could no longer handle, 
must work well if society was not to fall to pieces. Even so 
Gregorievitch must have been conscious, all his life, of the social 
value of patriotic poets, and, for the last unhappy twenty years, 
of censors. Therefore it seemed to him that he must do his 
best in both capacities, not that he should modify his perform- 
ances to uphold the consistence of his personality. That I could 
perfectly understand ; but it was so late I did not feel able to 
explain it to my husband, whom I saw when I forced open my 
eyelids, undressing slowly, with his eyes set pensively on the 
window-curtains, wondering what strange city they were going 
to disclose next day. 

Zagreb II 

But the morning show'ed us that Zagreb w'as not a strange 
city at all. It has the warm and comfortable appearance of a 
town that has been well-aired. People have been living there in 
physical, though not political, comfort for a thousand years. 
Moreover it is full of those vast toast-coloured buildings, barracks 
and law courts and municipal offices, which are an invariable 
sign of past occupancy by the Austro-Hungarian Empire ; and 
that always means enthusiastic ingestion combined with lack 
of exercise in pleasant surroundings, the happy consumption of 
coffee and whipped cream and sweet cakes at little tables under 
chestnut trees. But it had its own quality. It has no grand 
river, it is built up to no climax ; the hill the old town stands 
on is what the eighteenth century used to call “ a moderate 
elevation ”. It has few very fine buildings except the Gothic 
Cathedral, and that has been forced to wear an ugly nineteenth- 


century overcoat. But Zagfreb makes from its featureless hand- 
someness something that pleases like a Schubert song, a delight 
that begins quietly and never definitely ends. We believed we 
were being annoyed by the rain that first morning we walked 
out into it, but eventually we recognised we were as happy as 
if we had been walking in sunshine through a really beautiful 
city. It has, moreover, the endearing characteristic noticeable 
in many French towns, of remaining a small town when it is in 
fact quite large. A hundred and fifty thousand people live in 
Zagreb, but from the way gossips stand in the street, it is plain 
that everybody knows who is going to have a baby and when. 
This is a lovely spiritual victory over urbanisation. 

There was a wide market-place, where under red and white 
umbrellas peasants stood sturdy and square on their feet, and 
amazed us by their faces, which are as mobile and sensitive as 
if they were the most cultivated townspeople. The women wore — 
and were the first to do so I have ever seen anywhere in the 
world — neither skirt nor trousers, but two broad aprons, one 
covering the front part of the body and one the back, and over- 
lapping at the sides ; and underneath showed very brave red 
woollen stockings. They gave the sense of the very opposite of 
what we mean by the word “ peasant ” when we use it in a 
derogatory sense, thinking of women made doltish by repeated 
pregnancies and a lifetime spent in the service of oafs in villages 
that swim in mud to the thresholds every winter. This costume 
was evolved by w'omen who could stride along if they were 
eight months gone with child, and who would dance in the mud 
if they felt like it, no matter w'hat any oaf said. 

They lived under no favour, however. They all spoke some 
German, so we were able to ask the prices of what they sold ; 
and we covdd have bought a sackful of fruit and vegetables, all 
of the finest, for the equivalent of two shillings ; a fifth of what 
it would have fetched in a Western city. This meant desperate, 
pinching poverty, for the manufactured goods in the shops are 
marked at nearly Western prices. But they looked gallant, and 
nobody spoke of poverty, nobody begged. It was a sign that 
we were out of Central Europe, for in a German and Austrian 
town where the people were twice as well-off as these they would 
have perpetually complained. But there were signs that we 
were near Central Europe. There were stalls covered with fine 
embroidered handkerchiefs and table linen, which was all of 



it superbly executed, for Slav women have a captive devil in 
their flying fingers to work wonders for them. But the design 
was horrible. It was not like the designs I had seen in other 
parts of Yugoslavia, in Serbia and Macedonia ; it was not even 
as good as the designs on the dresses of the peasant women who 
were standing by the stalls, inferior though they were. It was 
severely naturalistic, and attempted to represent fruit and 
flowers, and it followed the tradition of Victorian Berlin wool- 
work. In other words, it showed German influence. 

I felt impatient. 1 was getting no exhilaration out of being 
here, such as I had hoped for in coming to Yugoslavia. For a 
rest I went and stood on the steps of the statue in the middle of 
the square. Looking at the inscription I saw that it was a 
statue of the Croat patriot, Yellatchitch, and I reflected that if 
the Croats had not succeeded in cheering me up they had other 
achievements to their credit. For this is one of the strangest 
statues in the world. It represents Yellatchitch as leading his 
troops on horseback and brandishing a sword in the direction 
of Budapest, in which direction he had indeed led them to 
victory against the Hungarians in 1848 ; and this is not a new 
statue erected sfnce Croatia was liberated from Hungary. It 
stood in the market-place, commemorating a Hungarian defeat, 
in the days when Hungary was master of Croatia, and the ex- 
planation does not lie in Hungarian magnanimity. It takes the 
whole of Croatian history to solve the mystery. 

The Croats were originally a Slav tribe who were invited by 
the Emperor Heraclius to free the Dalmatian coast and the 
Croatian hinterland from the Avars, one of the most noxious 
pillaging hordes who operated from a centre on the Danube 
far and wide : they created an early currency crisis by collecting 
immense tributes in gold, year after year, from all surrounding 
peoples. That was well on into the decadence of the Western 
Roman Empire, in the seventh century. They then stayed on 
as vassals of the Empire, and when its power dissolved they 
declared themselves independent ; and they had their own kings 
who acknowledged the suzerainty of the Pope. Very little is 
known about them in those days, except that they were not a 
barbarous people, but had inherited much of the elaborate 
Byzantine ritual. The last of their kings was crowned about the 
time of the Norman Conquest. He left no kin, and civil war 
followed among the Croat nobles. For the sake of peace they 


recognised as their sovereign Coloman, King of Hungary, who 
asserted the triple claim of conquest, election and inheritance ; 
the last was doubtful, but the other two were fair enough. It 
is a thing to be noted, the age of legalism in these parts. It is 
our weakness to think that distant people became civilised when 
we looked at them, that in their yesterdays they were brutish. 

Coloman was crowned Rex Hungariae Croatiae atque Dal- 
matiae. For two centuries the two kingdoms led an independent 
and co-equal existence under the same crown. Their peoples 
were not likely to assimilate. They were racially unrelated : 
the Hungarians or Magyars are a people of far Asiatic origin, 
akin to the Finns, the Bulgars and the Turks, and the Croats 
are Slav, akin to the Serbs, the Russians, the Poles and the 
Czechs. Neither is meek ; each is passionately attached to his 
own language ; and the Hungarians are fierce and warlike 
romantics whereas the Croats are fierce and warlike intellectuals. 
Nothing could make them sympathetic, but their position in 
Central Europe made the close alliance of a dual monarchy 
desirable. But it was not cast-iron. In the fourteenth century 
Coloman’s line died out, and the Croats would not accept the 
king elected by the Hungarians but crowned their own choice 
in Zagreb Cathedral, and the union was only restored after six 
years, when the Hungarians accepted the Croat king. But the 
son of that king was Louis the Great, and he was predominantly 
Hungarian in blood and more in feeling. The Croats had to 
take a second place. 

Many of us think that monarchy is more stable than a re- 
publican form of government, and that there is a special whim- 
sicality about modern democracies. We forget that stable 
monarchies are the signs of genius of an order at least as rare 
in government as in literature or music, or of stable history. 
Monarchy without these conditions is whimsical to the point 
of mania. The stock was not fruitful as among commoners, 
perhaps because princesses were snatched as brides before 
puberty lest others make the useful alliance first ; and in no 
rank does stock breed true and merit follow merit. If on a 
king’s death he should leave an idiot heir or none, the nobles 
would send, perhaps far away, to a man whose fame lay in 
violence, in order to avoid war among themselves. He would 
rule them with the coldness of an alien, and it might be that in 
his loins there was working this genetic treachery, to leave them 



masterless at his death. He was in any case sure to be afflicted 
with the special malady of kings, which was poverty ; the re- 
luctance we feel about paying income tax is only the modem 
expression of a human incapacity to see the justice of providing 
for corporate expenses which is as old as the species itself. 
Here his alien blood made itself felt. Terrified of his insecure 
position in a strange land, he asked little of the nobles and came 
down like a scourge on the peasants, and was tempted to plunder 
them beyond need and without mercy. That is to say, he 
demanded certain sums from the nobles and made no provisions 
for social justice which prevented the nobles from wringing them 
out of the peasants and keeping their private treasures intact. 
There was the still graver danger that the king’s alien blood 
would let him make contracts to their disadvantage with foreign 
powers. This danger was very grave indeed. For though there 
is a popular belief that negotiations to take the place of warfare 
are a modern invention, nothing could be further from the truth. 
The Middle Ages were always ready to lay down the sword and 
sign an agreement, preferably for a cash payment. An alien 
king was always particularly likely to sell a slice of his lands and 
people for a sum that would shore up his authority. 

It is not comfortable to be an inhabitant of this globe. It 
never has been, except for brief periods. The Croats have been 
peculiarly uncomfortable. Louis the Great was a Frenchman, 
one of the house of Anjou ; he married Elizabeth, a Slav, the 
daughter of a Bosnian king. When Louis died he left two 
daughters, and nearly all Hungary and Dalmatia recognised as 
their queen the elder, Mary, who was to govern under the Re- 
gency of her mother. But certain Croatian and Hungarian 
barons were against her, and called to the throne her father’s 
cousin. King Charles of Naples. It is to be noted that these 
Croatian barons were a strange and ungodly lot, with so little 
care for their people, and indeed, so little resemblance to them 
that they might be guessed to be alien. This whole territory 
had been devastated again and again by Asiatic invaders, and 
it is supposed that many of these nobles were the descendants 
of various roving brigands, men of power, who had seized land 
from the exhausted population as the invaders receded : some 
of them were certainly by origin Italian, German and Goth, and 
in some cases themselves Asiatic. King Charles was crowned 
King of Hungary and Croatia, and four years afterwards was 



assassinated by the widow Elizabeth. He was succeeded by 
his son, Ladislas, a fantastical adventurer. He was faced by 
Elizabeth and her daughter, Mary, and her betrothed, another 
alien, Sigismond of Luxemburg, a son of the Emperor Charles 
of Germany, for whom they desired the crown. Thereafter for 
fifty years the country agonised under these aliens, who were, 
however, inevitable at this phase of history. The people screamed 
with pain. They were tortured, imprisoned, famined ; and 
their national soul was violated. Ladislas, though he had never 
been crowned, sold Dalmatia to the Republic of Venice for a 
hundred thousand ducats ; and though Sigismond was eventu- 
ally crowned, he was never in a position to assert his legal rights 
and recover his possessions. This meant that an enormous 
number of warlike, thriftless, bucolic intellectuals fell under the 
control of a community of merchants ; and that the Croats of 
Croatia were thereafter the more helpless against Hungary by 
this division from their Dalmatian brothers. 

Sigismond bore the Croats a grudge, because certain of their 
nobles had aided Ladislas against him. There was then and 
thereafter no separate coronation for Croatia. She had to be 
satisfied with a separate diploma inaugurale, a document setting 
forth the king’s oath to his subjects and the privileges he intended 
to give them. But it is to be observed that she had to be satisfied. 
Dismembered as she was, she still had enough military power 
to make her able to bargain. Only as time went on these things 
mattered less. From the south-east the Turks pressed on and 
on. In 1453 they took Constantinople. In 1468 they were 
threatening the Dalmatian coast. Thereafter the Croats and the 
Hungarians were engaged in a perpetual guerilla warfare to 
defend their lands. In 1526 the Hungarians fought the Turks 
in the battle of Mohacs, without calling on the Croats for aid, 
out of pride and political cantankerousness among the nobles. 
They were beaten and the king killed. Now Croatia was quite 
alone. It had to fall back on Austria, which was then governed 
by Ferdinand of Hapsburg, and it offered him the throne on a 
hereditary basis. 

The Germans have always hated the Slavs. More than that, 
they have always acted hatef^ully towards them. Now the Croats 
began to learn this lesson. Croatia was ruined economically, 
because the Turks were to its north-east, its east and its south- 
east, so it was at Austria’s mercy. Austria used her power 



to turn them into the famous Military Confines, where the whole 
male population between the- ages of sixteen and sixty were 
treated as a standing army to defend the Austrian Empire. 
They were given certain privileges which were chiefly legal 
Actions ; but for the very reason that they were isolated from 
the rest of Europe they lingered in the legalistic Middle Ages 
and enjoyed these Actions. They were sunk in wretched poverty. 
At the end of the sixteenth century there was a Peasants’ Rising, 
which was suppressed with the greatest cruelty conceivable. 
The leader was killed at a mock coronation. The crown set on 
his head was of white-hot iron. Thereafter, between Austrian 
tyranny and Turkish raids, the Croats lived submissively, until 
1670 when a number of the Croat nobles formed a conspiracy 
against the Hapsburgs. It is curious to note that these aliens, 
noted before for their indifference to the interests of their people, 
had in the years of misfortune grown truly nationalist. They 
were discovered and beheaded ; and their lands were given to 
Austrian and Italian families, to whom the peasants were simply 
brute beasts for exploitation. 

Meanwhile there developed among the Croats one of the 
most peculiar passions known in histoi y : a burning indestruct- 
ible devotion to the Hapsburgs. Because of the historic union 
with Hungary they sent their Ban, which is to say their Governor, 
to sit in the Hungarian Diet, while it sat in exile and when, on 
its return, it sat again in Bratislavia and later in Budapest. But 
they had their independence ; they ratiAed separate treaties, 
and nobody said them nay. They used this power to put the 
Hapsburgs Armly on the throne. When Charles VI had no son 
he put forward the Pragmatic Sanction, which declared that the 
house of Hapsburg could inherit through the female line, and 
gave the succession to his daughter Maria Theresa. If this had 
been resisted by the highly militarised state of Croatia other 
parts of the Empire might have followed suit ; but the Croats 
eagerly accepted. They received a characteristic return. The 
aristocracy of Hungary was lawless and disobedient, after a 
hundred and Afty years of demoralisation under Turkish rule. 
Maria Theresa tore up the constitution to please them, and put 
Croatia under them as a slave state : not as regnum socium, not 
as a companion state, but as partes adnexae, annexed territory. 
Since the Croatian nobles had been destroyed there was now 
nobody to lead a revolt. The imported aristocracy felt a far 


greater kinship with the Hungarians of their own class than 
with the peasants on their lands. 

So the eighteenth century went by with the Croats enslaved 
by Hungary, and their passion for Austria idiotically stable. 
The increasing incapacity of the Hapsburgs led to the crisis of 
1848. Among other follies Francis the First and Metternich 
had the unhappy idea of closing the Hungarian Diet for fourteen 
years, an oppressive act which had raised Hungarian national 
feeling to fever point. It oddly happened that inherent in Hun- 
garian nationalism was a contempt and loathing for all nationalist 
sentiments felt by any other people in all conceivable circum- 
stances. This was proved later by their strange attitude to the 
language issue. It infuriated them that they should be forced 
to speak German and should not be allowed to speak their own 
language, Magyar ; but they were revolted by the idea that any 
of their neighbours, the Croats, Serbs or Slovaks, should speak 
their own language, or indeed anything but Magyar. The 
famous Hungarian patriot, Lajos Kossuth, showed vehemence 
on this point that was simply not sane, considering he had not 
one drop of Hungarian blood in his veins and was purely Slovak. 
When he took charge of the Nationalist Party he announced it 
as part of his programme to destroy the identity of Croatia. He 
declared he would suppress the Croatian language by the sword, 
and introduced an electoral bill which omitted the name of 
Croatia and described her departments as Hungarian counties. 

The Croats showed their love and trust in Austria once more. 
They sent a deputation to Vienna to ask the Emperor Ferdinand 
for divorce from Hungary and direct subordination to the Haps- 
burgs, and to suggest that a young officer named Yellatchitch 
should be appointed Ban of Croatia. The Emperor behaved 
with the fluttering inefficiency of the German tourists on the 
train. He was on the eve of a cataclysm in European history. 
He was surrounded by revolutionary Viennese, by discontented 
Czechs, by disloyal Hungarians ; the only faithful subjects 
within sight were the Croats. But he hesitated to grant the 
deputation its requests, and indeed would have refused them 
had it not been that certain persons in court circles had taken a 
liking to Yellatchitch. After Yellatchitch was appointed he 
spent six months in organising anti-Hungarian feeling through- 
out Croatia, and then in September 1 848 he marched across the 
frontier at the head of fifty thousand Croat soldiers and defeated 



a Hungarian army that was hurrying to Austria to aid the 
Viennese revolutionaries against the Hapsburgs. Nobody has 
ever said that the Hungarians were not magnificent fighters, but 
this time the Croats were at least as good, and they had the 
advantage of meeting an adversary under an insane leader. 
They did not even have to go on holding the Hungarians at bay, 
for Kossuth was inspired to the supreme idiocy of formally 
announcing that the Hapsburgs were deposed and that he was 
ruler of Hungary. Up till then the programme of the revolu- 
tionaries had simply been autonomy within the Austrian Empire. 
This extension meant that Russia felt bound to intervene. Those 
who fear Bolshevist Russia because of its interventions in the 
affairs of other countries, which are so insignificant that they 
have never been rewarded with success, forget that Tsarist 
Russia carried foreign intervention to a pitch that has never 
been equalled by any other power, except the modern Fascist 
states, and that she held it as her right to defend the dynastic 
principle wherever it was threatened. Kossuth’s proclamation 
meant that the Tsar immediately poured a hundred and eighty 
thousand Russians into Hungary. By summer-time in 1849 
Kossuth was a fugitive in Turkey. 

Yellatchiteh and the Croats had saved the Austrian Empire. 
They got exactly nothing for this service, except this statue 
which stands in Zagreb market-square. The Hapsburgs were 
still suicidal. They were bent on procuring the dissolution of 
their Empire, on raping time and begetting on her the Sarajevo 
assassination. Instead of giving the Croats the autonomy they 
demanded they now made them wholly subject to the central 
government, and they freed them from Magyarisation to inflict 
on them the equal brutality of Germanisation. And then, 
ultimately, they practised on them the supreme treachery. When 
the Dual Monarchy was framed to placate Hungary, the Croats 
were handed over to the Hungarians as their chattels. I do not 
know of any nastier act than this in history.* It has a kind of 
lowness that is sometimes exhibited in the sexual affairs of very 
vulgar and shameless people : a man leaves his wife and induces 
a girl to become his mistress, then is reconciled to his wife and 
to please her exposes the girl to some public humiliation. But, 
all the same, Austria did not forget 1848 and Lajos Kossuth. 
It left the statue there, just as a reminder. So the Croat helots 
' It must be remembered that this journal was written in 1937. 




stood and touched their caps to their Hungarian masters in the 
shadow of the memorial of the Croat General who led them to 
victory against a Hungarian army. That is the strangest episode 
of sovereignty I have ever chanced upon in any land. 

Well, what did all this story mean to the people in Croatia, 
the people I was looking at, the people who had been selling me 
things ? 1 had come to Yugoslavia because I knew that the past 
has made the present, and I want to see how the process works. 
Let me start now. It is plain that it means an amount of human 
pain, arranged in an unbroken continuity appalling to any 
person cradled in the security of the English or American past. 
Were I to go down into the market-place, armed with the powers 
of witchcraft, and take a peasant by the shoulders and whisper 
to him, “ In your lifetime, have you known peace ? ’’ wait for 
his answer, shake his shoulders and transform him into his 
father, and ask him the same question, and transform him in his 
turn to his father, I would never hear the word " Yes,” if I 
carried my questioning of the dead back for a thousand years. 
I would always hear, " No, there was fear, there were our enemies 
without, our rulers within, there was prison, there was torture, 
there was violent death.” 

And they had no compensation in their history, for that never 
once formed a historic legend of any splendid magnitude. It 
was a record of individual heroism that no nation could surpass, 
but it had never shaped itself into an indestructible image of 
triumph that could be turned to as an escape from present 
failure. The Croats have always been superb soldiers ; but their 
greatest achievements have been merged in the general triumphs 
of the armies of the Hapsburgs, who were at pains that they 
should never be extricated and distinguished, and their courage 
and endurance was shown most prodigious in engagements with 
the Turks which were too numerous and too indecisive to be 
named in history or even preserved with any vividness in local 
tradition. Their only outstanding military victory to their credit 
was the rout of the Hungarians commemorated by Yellatchitch’s 
statue, and this might as welt have been a defeat. Again we 
must go for an analogy to the sexual affairs of individuals. As 
we grow older and see the ends of stories as well as their be- 
ginnings, we realise that to the people who take part in them 
it is almost of greater importance that they should be stories, 
that they should form a recognisable pattern, than that they 



Bhould be happy or tragic. The men and women who are 
withered by their fates, who go down to death reluctantly but 
without noticeable regrets for life, are not those who have lost 
their mates prematurely or by perfidy, or who have lost battles 
or fallen from early promise in circumstances of public shame, 
but those who have been jilted or the victims of impotent lovers, 
who have never been summoned to command or been given any 
opportunity for success or failure. Art is not a plaything, but a 
necessity, and its essence, form, is not a decorative adjustment, 
but a cup into which life can be poured and lifted to the lips and 
be tasted. If one's own existence has no form, if its events do 
not come handily to mind and disclose their significance, we 
feel about ourselves as if we were reading a bad book. We can 
all of us judge the truth of this, for hardly any of us manage to 
avoid some periods when the main theme of our lives is obscured 
by details, when we involve ourselves with persons who are in- 
sufficiently characterised ; and it is possibly true not only of 
individuals, but of nations. What would England be like if it 
had not its immense Valhalla of kings and heroes, if it had not 
its Elizabethan and its Victorian ages, its thousands of incidents 
which come up in the mind, simple as icons and as miraculous 
in their suggestion that what England has been it can be again, 
now and for ever ? What would the United States be like if it 
had not those reservoirs of triumphant will-power, the historical 
facts of the War of Independence, of the giant American states- 
men, and of the pioneering progress into the West, which every 
American citizen has at his mental command and into which he 
can plunge for revivification at any minute ? To have a difficult 
history makes, perhaps, a people who are bound to be difficult 
in any conditions, lacking these means of refreshment. " But 
perhaps,” said my husband, " it does not matter very much." 

Zagreh III 

But it matters. He saw, before we went to bed that night, 
that what happened to these people matters a great deal. As 
we stood on the steps of the statue there came towards us Con- 
stantine, treading delicately among the pigeons that cover all 
the pavement in the market-square where there are not stalls. 
He brought his brows together in censure of two of these pigeons 


which, in spite of the whirling traffic all around them, had felt 
the necessity to love. "A h. Us Croates ! ” he mtirmured, shaking 
his head ; and as we laughed he went on, “ And I can see that 
you two also are thinking of committing a misdemeanour of 
taste. Not so gross, but still a misdemeanour. You are think- 
ing of going up to look at the Old Town, and that is quite wrong. 
Up there are villas and palaces, which must not be seen in the 
morning. In the evening, when the dusk is sentimental, we shall 
go and peer through the gateways and you shall see colonnades 
and pediments more remote than those of Rome, because they 
are built in the neo-classical style that was the mode in Vienna 
a hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago, and you shall see 
our little Slav contribution, for in the walled garden before the 
bouse we will see iron chairs and tables with nobody sitting at 
them, and you will recognise at a glance that the person who is 
not sitting there is straight out of Turgeniev. You cannot look 
at Austria as it was the day before yesterday, at us Slavs as we 
were yesterday, by broad daylight. It is like the pigeons. But 
come to the Cathedral, which is so beautiful that you may see it 
now or any other time.” 

So we went up the steep street into the Cathedral Square, and 
looked for a time at the Archbishop’s palace, with its squat round 
towers under their candle-extinguisher tops, and then went 
through the Cathedral’s nineteenth-century false front into the 
dark and stony plant forms of the Gothic interior. It has been 
cut about as by a country dressmaker, but it has kept the 
meditative integrity of darkness considering light, the mathe- 
matical aspiration for something above mathematics, which had 
been the core of its original design, and at that moment it housed 
the same intense faith that had built it. This was Easter Eve ; 
the great cross had been taken down from the altar and lay 
propped up before the step, the livid and wounded Christ 
wincing in the light of the candles set at His feet. It was guarded 
by two soldiers in the olive uniform of the Yugoslavian Army, 
who leaned on their rifles as if this was a dead king of earth 
lying in state. As I looked at them, admiring the unity enjoyed 
by a state which fights and believes it has a moral right to fight, 
and w'ould give up either fighting or religion if it felt the two 
inconsistent, I saw that they W'cre moved by a deep emotion. 
Their lips were drawn outward from their clenched teeth, they 
were green as if they were seasick. “ Are they tired ? Do 



they have to guard the cross for a long time ? " I asked cauti- 
ously. “ No,” said Constantine, “ not for more than an hour 
or two. Then others come.” “ Then they are really looking 
like that,” I pressed, ” because it is a great thing for them to 
guard the dead Christ ? ” “ Certainly,” he replied. “ The 

Croats are such Catholics as you never did see, not in France, 
not in Italy ; and I think you ask that question because you do 
not understand the Slavs. If we did not feel intensely about 
guarding the dead Christ we should not put our soldiers to do 
it, and indeed they would not do it if we put them there, they 
would go away and do something else. The custom would have 
died if it had not meant a great deal to us.” For a long time 
we watched the wincing Christ and the two boys with bowed 
heads, who swayed very slightly backwards and forwards, back- 
wards and forwards, like candle-flame in a room where the air 
is nearly still. I had not been wrong. In Yugoslavia there was 
an intensity of feeling that was not only of immense and ex- 
hilarating force, but had an honourable origin, proceeding from 
realist passion, from whole belief. 

We were to learn after that something about the intellectual 
level of Croatia. In a restaurant beside the Cathedral people 
awaited us for lunch : a poet and playwright, author of dramas 
much larger than life, larger even than art, which make Othello 
seem plotless and light-minded, who looks like Mr. Pickwick, 
and his wife, who had the beauty of a Burne-Jones, the same air 
of having rubbed holes in her lovely cheeks with her clenched 
knuckles. They looked up at us absently, said that they had 
found the poems of Vaughan the Silurist in an anthology of 
English poems and thought him one of the greatest poets, and, 
while ordering us an immense meal of which goose-liver and 
apple sauce were the centre-piece, threw over us the net of an 
extremely complicated conversation about literature. “ We 
think,” said the playwright, " that the greatest writers of recent 
times are Joseph Conrad, Maxim Gorki and Jack London.” 
We blenched. We thought that in fact these people could have 
no taste, if they could think both Vaughan and Jack London 
great. We were wrong. The playwright was actually a real 
poet, and he did not expect anything but poetic forms to satisfy 
the highest canons of art. Writers like Shaw or Wells or Peguy 
or Gide did not seem to him artists at all : they wrote down 
what one talks in cafes, which is quite a good thing to do if 


the talk is good enough, but is not serious, because it deals 
with something as common and renewable as sweat. But pure 
narration was a form of great importance, because it gathered 
together experiences that could be assimilated by others of 
poetic talent and transmuted into higher forms ; and he liked 
Conrad and Jack London and Maxim Gorki because they were 
collecting experiences which were rare, which they had investi- 
gated thoroughly by undergoing them themselves, and which 
they had tested with an abnormal sensitiveness. But the play- 
wright and his wife had been wondering whether Conrad was 
not in a class alone, because of the feeling of true tragedy that 
ran through his works. It never blossomed into poetry, but was 
it not so definitely the proper subject matter of poetry that he 
might claim to be, so to speak, on the commissariat of the poetic 
army ? 

" No,” said my husband suddenly, “ Conrad has no sense of 
tragedy at all, but only of the inevitable, and for him the inevit- 
able was never the fulfilment of a principle such as the Greek 
ananke, but a deroulement of the consequences of an event.” 
An example of this, he said, is the story " Duel " in A Set of Six, 
in which the original event is commonplace, bringing no principle 
whatsoever into play, and the inevitable consequences are so far- 
reaching that they are almost ludicrous. But there is no factor 
involved that might come into operation, that indeed must come 
into operation so generally in human affairs that as we identify 
it we feel as if a new phase of our destiny has been revealed to 
us. The playwright's wife said that this was true but irrelevant. 
To her there was a sense of tragedy implied in Conrad’s work 
not by factual statement but by the rhythm of his language. 
“ Tchk I Tchk 1 ” said Constantine. " A great symphony 
must have its themes as well as the emotional colour given by 
its orchestration. And listen . . .” He said the sense of inevit- 
ability in a work of art should be quite different from the scien- 
tific conception of causality, for if art were creative then each 
stage must be new, must have something over and above what 
wais contained in the previous stages, and the connection between 
the first and the last must be creative in the Bergsonian sense. 
He added that it is to give this creativeness its chance to create 
what was at once unpredictable and inevitable that an artist must 
never interfere with his characters to make them prove a moral 
point, because this is to force them down the path of the pre- 



dictable. " Yes, that is what Tolstoy is always doing,” said the 
playwright, " and all the same he convinces us he is a great 
artist.” “ I feel he is not a great artist,” I said, “ I feel he 
might have been the greatest of all artists, but instead chose to 
be the second greatest of renegades after Judas.” “ I, too ! ” 
said the poet, who had just sat down at the table. " I, too ! " 

The bottles thick about us, we stayed in the restaurant till it 
was five o’clock. We were then discussing Nietzsche’s attitude 
to music. At eight we were back in the same restaurant, dining 
with an editor leader of the Croat party which is fighting for 
autonomy under a federal system, and his wife. Valetta was 
there, but Constantine was not. The editor, though he him- 
self was a Serb by birth, would not have sat down at the same 
table with an official of the Yugoslavian Government. And 
Gregorievitch was not there, not only for that reason, but because 
he would not have sat down at the same table as the editor, 
whom he regarded as evil incarnate.' He had come in for a glass 
of brandy that evening, and on hearing where we were to spend 
the evening he had become Pluto dyspeptic, Pluto sunk in 
greenish gloom, caterpillar-coloured because of the sins of the 
world. Yet this editor also would have died for the Slav cause, 
and had indeed undergone imprisonment for its sake before the 
war. He is indeed still facing grave danger, for he was running 
Ills movement from the point of view of an English pre-war 
Liberal, who abhorred all violence, and he not only attacked the 
Yugoslavian Government for the repressive methods it used 
against Croatia, but also those Croats who used violence against 
the Government and who accepted Hungarian and Italian 
support for terrorism. He does not mind thus risking the loss of 
his only friends. He is a great gentleman, an intellectual and a 
moralist, and has carved himself, working against the grain of 
the wood, into a man of action. 

As we talked of the political situation there ran to our table a 
beautiful young Russian woman, who could be with us only 
half an hour because she was supervising a play of hers about 
Pushkin which had been put on at the National Theatre a few 
nights before and was a failure. She brought the news that this 
amazing Easter had now produced a blizzard. On her golden 
hair and perfect skin and lithe body in its black dress snowflakes 
were melting, her blood running the better for it ; and failure 
was melting on her like a snowflake also, leaving her glowing. 


" They are hard on my play ! ” she cried, choked with the ecstatic 
laughter of Russian women. “ Ce n’est pas bien, ce n’est pas 
mal, c’est mddiocre I ” The editor, smiling at her beauty and 
her comet quality, tried to upbraid her for her play. The drama, 
he said, was a great mystery, one of the most difficult forms of 
art. All men of genius have tried their hand at a play at some 
time, and he had read most of them. These people, I realised, 
could make such universal statements. Both the editor and his 
wife knew, and knew well, in addition to their native Serbo- 
Croat, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Latin and 

Nearly all these dramas, the editor continued, were bad. 
The drama demanded concentration on themes which by their 
very nature tempted to expansion, and only people with a special 
gift for craftsmanship could handle this problem. And one 
enormously increased this difficulty if, as she had done, one 
chose as one's theme a great man, for what could be more 
obstinately diffused than the soul of a great man ? Often, 
indeed, the soul of a great man refused to be reduced to the 
terms necessary even for bare comprehension ? And especially 
was this true of Pushkin. Which of us can understand Pushkin ? 
At that the editor and the editor’s wife and Valetta and the 
Russian all began to talk at once, their faces coming close to- 
gether in a bright square about the middle of the table. The 
talk had been in French, it swung to Serbo-Croat, it ended in 
Russian. My husband and I sat tantalised to fury. We only 
knew Pushkin by translation ; we found Evgettye Onegin as 
something between Don Juan and Winthrop Mackworth Praed, 
and we liked his short stories rather less than Nathaniel Haw- 
thorne’s : and obviously we are wrong, for because of limitations 
of language we are debarred from seeing something that is 
obvious to unsealed eyes as the difference between a mule and 
a Derby winner. 

But the Russian stood up. She had to go back to the theatre 
to supervise the crowd that in the last scene of the play wept 
outside Pushkin's house while he w'as dying. It was plainly the 
real reason that she was leaving us, and not an excuse. There 
was nothing more indicative of the high level of culture among 
these people than their capacity to discuss the work of one 
amongst them with complete detachment. But before she went 
she made a last defence. For a short time she had found herself 



united in experience with Pushkin, and even if that union covered 
only a small part of Pushkin, it was w'orth setting down, it might 
give a clue to the whole of him. Looking past her at her beauty, 
in the odd way that men do, the editor said, though only to tease 
her, “ Experience indeed ! Are you sure you have enough 
experience ? Do you think you have lived enough to write ? ” 
She answered with an air of evasion suggesting that she sus- 
pected she might some day have a secret but was too innocent 
to know what it was, though she was actually a married woman 
at the end of her twenties, if not in her early thirties : “ I will 
not argue that, because the connection between art and life is 
not as simple as that ! ” But then her face crinkled into laughter 
again, “ Sometimes the connection between art and life is very 
close ! Think of it, there is a woman in the crowd in this last 
scene whose cries always give a lead to the others and have indeed 
given the end of the play much of its effect, they are always so 
sad. The audience cannot hear the words the actors in the 
crowd are using, they only catch the accent of the whole sentence. 
And as this woman has caught the very accent of anxious grief, 
I listened to what she had to say. And she was crying, ‘ Oh, 
God ! Oh, God ! Let Pushkin die before the last bus leaves 
for my suburb ! ’ ” She turned from us laughing, but turned 
back again : “ That's something I don’t like ! There is a 
mockery inherent in the art of acting, the players must make 
everybody weep but themselves ; if they don’t weep they must 
jeer inside themselves at the people who do weep ! ” She 
shuddered, wishing she had never written the play, never had 
tried her luck in the theatre, a child who had chosen the wrong 
birthday treat. She brushed the sadness from her mouth and 
went away, laughing. This, so far as talk was concerned, was 
a representative day in Zagreb. 


“ This is a very delightful place,” said my husband the next 
morning. It was Easter Sunday, and the waiter had brought in 
on the breakfast-tray dyed Easter eggs as a present from the 
management, and we were realising that the day before had 
been wholly pleasant. " Of course, Austria did a lot for the 
place,” said an Englishman, a City friend of my husband, who 


vas staying in the hotel and had come to have breakfast. 1 
suppose so,” said my husband, and then caught himself up. 
” No, what am I saying ? It cannot be so, for this is not in the 
remotest degree like Austria. Austrians do sit in caf& for hours 
and they talk incessantly, but they have not this raging polyglot 
intellectual curiosity, they have not this way of turning out 
universal literature on the floor as if it were a rag-bag, which 
indeed it is, and seeking for a fragment that is probably not 
there, is probably part of an arcanum of literature that exists 
only in their own heads. In cultured Vienna homes they often 
give parties to hear the works of great writers read aloud : only 
a few months ago I spent an evening at the house of a Viennese 
banker, listening to the poems of Wildgans. But it would be 
impossible to read aloud to a party of Yugoslavs, unless one 
bound and gagged the guests beforehand.” 

There came into the room Constantine and Gregorievitch, 
who was still a little cold to us because of the company we had 
kept on the previous night. “ What has Austria done for you ? " 
asked my husband. ” Nothing,” said Constantine ; “ it has 
not the means. What can a country without history do for a 
people with a glorious history like the Serbs ? ” “I was talking 
of Croatia,” said my husband. Gregorievitch said anxiously, 
as if he had been detecting himself looking in the mirror, ” The 
answer stands.” “ But the Austrians have their history,” 
objected my husband. “ No,” said Gregorievitch, " we are its 
history. We Slavs in general, we Croats in particular. The 
Hapsburgs won their victories with Czechs, with Poles and, 
above all, with Croats. Without us the Austrians would have 
no history, and if we had not stood between them and the Turks, 
Vienna would now be a Moslem city.” The Englishman 
laughed, as if a tall story that knew its own height had been 
told. Gregorievitch looked at him as if he had blasphemed. 
” Is it a little thing that only yesterday it was decided that 
Europe should not be Islamised ? " he asked. " What does he 
mean ? " asked the Englishman. " That the Turks besieged 
Vienna in 1683 and were turned back,” said my husband, " and 
that if they had not been turned back it is possible that they would 
have swept across all Europe.” “ Is that true ? ” asked the Eng- 
lishman. “ Yes," said my husband. " But it’s not yesterday,” 
said the Englishman. " To these people it is,” said my husband, 
*• and 1 think they are right. It's uncomfortably recent, the 



blow would have smashed the whole of our Western culture, and 
we shouldn’t forget that such things happen.” ” But ask them,” 
said the Englishman, “ if Austria did not do a lot for them in the 
way of sanitary services.” Gregorievitch looked greenly into 
the depths of the mirror as if wondering how he showed not 
signs of gaiety but signs of life under the contamination of these 
unfastidious English. “ Your friend, who showed no emotion 
at the thought of the spires of Vienna being replaced by minarets, 
doubtless would expect us to forgive the Austrians for building 
oubliettes for our heroes so long as they built us chalets for our 
necessities. Are you sure,” he said, speaking through his teeth, 
” that you really wish to go to hear mass at the village of Shes- 
tine ? It is perhaps not the kind of expedition that the English 
find entertaining ? " 

We drove through a landscape I have often seen in Chinese 
pictures : wooded hills under snow looked like hedgehogs 
drenched in icing sugar. On a hill stood a little church, full to 
the doors, bright inside as a garden, glowing with scarlet and gold 
and blue and the unique, rough, warm white of homespun, and 
shaking with song. On the women’s heads were red handker- 
chiefs printed with yellow leaves and peacocks’ feathers, and their 
jackets were solidly embroidered with flowers, and under their 
white skirts were thick red or white woollen stockings. Their 
men were just as splendid in sheepskin leather jackets with 
applique designs in dyed leathers, linen shirts with fronts em- 
tvoidered in cross-stitch and fastened with buttons of Maria 
Theresa dollars or lumps of turquoise matrix, and homespun 
trousers gathered into elaborate boots. The splendour of these 
dresses was more impressive because it was not summer. The 
brocade of a rajah’s costume or the silks of an Ascot crowd are 
within the confines of prudence, because the rajah is going to 
have a golden umbrella held over him and the Ascot crowd are 
not far from shelter, but these costumes were made for the 
winter in a land of unmetalled roads, where snow lay till it 
melted and mud might be knee-deep, and showed a gorgeous 
lavishness, for hours and days, and even years, had been spent 
in the stuffs and skins and embroideries which were thus put at 
the mercy of the bad weather. There was lavishness also in 
the singing that poured out of these magnificently clad bodies, 
which indeed transformed the very service. Western church 
music is almost commonly petitioning and infantile, a sentiment 


cozening for remedy against sickness or misfortune, combined 
with a masochist enjoyment in the malady, but this singing 
spoke of health and fulness. 

The men stood on the right of the church and the women on 
the left. This is the custom also in the Orthodox Church, and 
it is reasonable enough. At a ceremony which sets out to be the 
most intense of all contacts with reality, men and women, who 
see totally different aspects of reality, might as well stand apart. 
It is inappropriate for them to be mixed as in the unit of the 
family, where men and women attempt with such notorious 
difficulty to share their views of reality for social purposes. From 
this divided congregation comes a flood of song which asked for 
absolutely nothing, which did not ape childhood, which did not 
pretend that sour is sweet and pain wholesome, but which 
simply adored. If there be a God who is fount of all goodness, 
this is the tribute that should logically be paid to Him; if there 
be only goodness, it is still a logical tribute. And again, the 
worship, like their costume, was made astonishing by their 
circumstances. These people, who had neither wealth nor 
security, nor ever had had them, stood before the Creator, and 
thought not what they might ask for but what they might give. 
To be among them was like seeing an orchard laden with apples 
or a field of ripe wheat, endowed with a human will and using 
it in accordance with its own richness. 

This was not simply due to these people’s faith. There are 
people who hold precisely the same faith whose worship pro- 
duces an effect of poverty. When Heine said that Amiens 
Cathedral could only have been built in the past, because the 
men of that day had convictions, whereas we moderns have only 
opinions, and something more than opinions are needed for 
building a cathedral, he put into circulation a half-truth which 
has done a great deal of harm. It matters supremely what kind 
of men hold these convictions. This service was impressive 
because the congregation was composed of people with a unique 
sort of healthy intensity. At the end we went out and stood at 
the churchyard gate, and watched the men and women clumping 
down a lane to the village through the deep snow, with a zest 
that was the generalised form of the special passion they had 
exhibited in the church. I had not been wrong about what I 
had found among the Yugoslavs. 

“ Are they not beautiful, the costumes of Croatia ? ” asked 



Gregorievitch, his very spectacles beaming, his whole appearance 
made unfamiliar by joy. “ Are they not lovely, the girls who 
wear them, and are not the young men handsome ? And they 
are very pious.” " Yes,” I said, " I have never heard a mass 
sung more fervently.” “I do not mean that,” he said irrit- 
ably, “ I meant pious in their Croat patriotism.” It appeared 
that the inhabitants of Shestine wore these wonderful clothes 
not from custom but from a positive and virile choice. They 
would naturally wear ordinary Western European clothes, as 
most other peasants round Zagreb do, but they are conscious 
that the great patriot Anton Starchevitch is buried in the grave- 
yard of their church, and they know that to him everything 
Croatian was precious. We went and stood by his tomb in the 
snow, while Gregorievitch, taller than ever before though not 
erect, hung over its railings like a weeping willow and told us 
how Starchevitch had founded the Party of the Right, which de- 
fied^ both Austria and Hungary and attempted to negotiate his 
country back to the position of independence it had enjoyed eight 
hundred years before. ” It was Starchevitch’s motto, ‘ Croatia 
only needs God and the Croats said Gregorievitch. “ For 
thirty years when the glamour and wealth and triumphant 
cruelty of nineteenth-century Hungary might have tempted us 
young Croats to forget our country, he made us understand that 
if we forgot the tradition of our race we lost our souls as if by 
sin.” We were conscious of the second coat that lies about a 
snow-covered world, the layer of silence ; we smelt the wood- 
smoke from the village below. “ As a child I was taken to see 
him,” said Gregorievitch, his voice tense as if he were a Welsh 
evangelist ; “ we all drew strength from him.” Constantine, 
looking very plump and cosy, announced, “ His mother was a 
Serb.” " But she had been received at the time of her marriage 
into the True Church,” said Gregorievitch, frowning. 

We moved away, and as Constantine and I stepped into the 
snowdrifts of the lane we passed three men, dark as any Hindu, 
carrying drums and trumpets. “ Ohe ! Here are the gipsies,” 
said Constantine, and we smiled at them, seeing pictures of 
some farm kitchen crammed with people in dresses brighter than 
springtime, all preparing with huge laughter to eat mountains 
of lamb and pig and drink wells of wine. But the men looked 
at us sullenly, and one said with hatred, “ Yes, we are gipsies.” 
Both Constantine and I were so startled that we stopped in the 


snow and gaped at each other, and then walked on in silence. 
In the eastern parts of Yugoslavia, in Serbia and in Macedonia, 
the gipsies are proud of being gipsies, and other people, which 
is to say the peasants, for there are practically none other, honour 
them for their qualities, for their power of making beautiful 
music and dancing, which the peasant lacks, and envy them for 
being exempt from the necessities of toil and order which lie 
so heavily on the peasant ; and this has always been my natural 
attitude to those who can please as I cannot. It was inconceiv- 
able to both Constantine and myself that the gipsies should have 
thought we held them in contempt or that we should have ex- 
pressed contempt aloud if we had felt it. 

The whole world was less delightful. The snow seemed 
simply weather, the smell of the wood-smoke gave no pleasure. 
“ I tell you. Central Europe is too near the Croats,” said Con- 
stantine. “ They are good people, very good people, but they 
are possessed by the West. In Germany and Austria they 
despise the gipsies. They have several very good reasons. The 
art of the gipsies commands no respect, for the capitalist system 
had discredited popular art, and only exploits virtuosos. If I 
go and play Liszt’s scaramoucheries very fast thump-thump- 
thump and tweedle-tweedle-tweedle, they will think more of it 
than the music those three men play, though it is perfectly 
adapted to certain occasions. Also the gipsies are poor, and the 
capitalist system despises people who do not acquire goods. 
Also the West is mad about cleanliness, and the gipsies give dirt 
its rights, perhaps too liberally. We Serbs are not bourgeois, so 
none of these reasons make us hate the gipsies, and, believe me, 
our world is more comfortable.” 

I looked back at the gipsies, who were now breasting the hill, 
huddled under the harsh wind that combed its crest. Life had 
become infinitely poorer since we left church. The richness of 
the service had been consonant with an order of society in which 
peasants and gipsies were on an equal footing and there was 
therefore no sense of deprivation and need ; but here was the 
threat of a world where everybody was needy, since the moneyed 
people had no art and the people with art had no money. Some- 
thing alien and murderous had intruded here into the Slav 
pattern, and its virtue had gone out of it. 



Tvm Castles 

Yes, the German influence was like a shadow on the Croat 
world. We were to learn that again the next day. Gregorievitch 
had arranged to take us on Easter Monday into the countty, 
with Constantine and Valetta and some young Croat doctors. 
It is a sign of the bitterness felt by the Croats against the Serbs 
that because we were in the company of Constantine and 
Gregorievitch, who were representatives of the Yugoslavian 
ideas, very few Croats would meet us : and Valetta, who came 
to see us because of an existing friendship with me, was slightly 
embarrassed by the situation, though he concealed it. These 
Croat doctors were ready to come with us, because it was our 
intention to visit first a castle belonging to a great Hungarian 
family who still used it as a residence for a part of the year, and 
then to go on to another castle once owned by the same family, but 
now used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis by a Health Insurance 
Society. This gave them a professional excuse. But it snowed 
all through the night of Easter Sunday, and we woke to an 
Arctic morning, so we telephoned to ask Valetta and these 
doctors to come all the same and have breakfast, though the 
expedition would obviously have to be cancelled. They came 
and proved to be delightful young men, graduates of Zagreb 
University, with hopes of post-graduate work in Vienna and 
Berlin and Paris, and we were having a pleasant conversation 
over our coffee and boiled eggs when the door opened and 
Gregorievitch came in, and we saw that we had done wrong. 

It is of the highest importance that the reader should under- 
stand Gregorievitch. If it were not for a small number of 
Gregorievitches the eastern half of Europe (and perhaps the 
other half as well) would have been Islamised, the tradition of 
liberty would have died for ever under the Hapsburgs, the 
Romanoffs and the Ottoman Empire, and Bolshevism would 
have become anarchy and not a system which may yet be turned 
to many uses. His kind has profoundly affected history and 
always for the better. Reproachfully his present manifestation 
said to us, " Are you not ready yet ? ’’ We stared up at him, 
and my husband asked, “ But is not the weather far too bad 7 ’’ 
He answered, “ The sun is not shining, but the countryside will 
be there all the same, will it not 7 And the snow is not too 


deep." “ Are you sure ? ” my husband asked doubtfully. " I 
am quite sure,” answered Grcgorievitch. “ I have rung up a 
fiiend of mine, a General who has specialised in mechanical 
transport, and I have told him the make of our automobiles, 
and he is of the opinion that we will be able to visit both castles.” 

There, as often before and after, Gregorievitch proved that 
the essential quality of Slavs is not, as might be thought, imagi- 
nation. He is characteristically, and in an endearing way, a 
Slav, but he has no imagination at all. He cannot see that the 
factual elements in an experience combine into more than them- 
selves. He would not, for example, let us go to the theatre at 
Zagreb. " No, I will not get you tickets,” he said with a re- 
pressed indignation, like a brawl in a crypt, “ I will not let you 
waste your money in that way. Since you cannot follow Serbo- 
Croat easily even when it is spoken slowly, and your husband 
does not understand it at all, what profit can it be for you to go 
to our theatre ? ” He envisaged attendance at a play as an 
attempt to obtain the information which the author has arranged 
for the characters to impart to the audience by their words and 
actions ; and that the actions could be used as a basis for guess- 
work to the words, that the appearance of the actors, the inflec- 
tions of their voices and the reactions they elicited from the 
audience, could throw light not only on the play but the culture 
of which it was a part, was beyond his comprehension. So now 
he conceived of an expedition to the country as being under- 
taken for the purpose of observing the physical and political 
geography of the district, and this could obviously be pursued 
in any climatic conditions save those involving actual physical 
discomfort. Nevertheless the Slav quality of passion was there, 
to disconcert the English or American witness, for it existed in 
a degree which is found among Westerners only in highly 
imaginative people. As he stood over us, grey and grooved and 
Plutoish, he palpitated with the violence of his thought, ” These 
people will go away without seeing the Croatian countryside, 
and some day they may fail Croatia for the lack of that know- 
ledge.” His love of Croatia was of volcanic ardour ; and its fire 
was not affected by his knowledge that most of the other people 
who loved Croatia were quite prepared, because he favoured 
union with the Serbs, to kill him without mercy in any time of 

We rose, abashed, and filed out to the automobiles ; and 



indeed at fitat the weather was not too bad. We went out of 
the town in a light drizzle, passing a number of women who 
were hurrying to market. They wore red kerchiefs on their 
heads, red shawls and white skirts, and carried red umbrellas 
in one hand, while with the other they pulled their skirts high 
over their red woollen stockings, so high that some showed 
their very clean white drawers of coarse linen edged with 
elaborate broderie anglaise. There was a Breughel-like humour 
about their movements, as if they were stylising their own 
struggles with nature ; their faces showed that there was 
nothing brutish about them. This was very marked among the 
old women. Slavs grow old more beautifully than the people 
of other races, for with the years their flesh clings closer to the 
bone instead of sagging away from it. This ribbon of laughing 
peasants ran beside us in an unbroken comic strip, right out 
into the country, where they exercised their humour with ex- 
treme good temper, for the automobiles raised fans of liquid 
mud on each side of them, and everyone we met had to jump 
some distance into deep snow to keep their clothes dry and clean. 
But they all made a joke of it. In one village, where the plaster 
houses were all painted a deep violet which was given great 
depth and vibrancy by the snow and the grey sky, a lovely young 
girl laughingly put her umbrella in front of her and mocked us 
and herself with clownish gestures that were exquisitely graceful 
and yet very funny. 

Then we saw nobody on the roads. The snow began to 
fall thickly and to lie. People at the door of a cottage smiled, 
waved, shivered theatrically and banged the door. We passed 
through a broad valley paved with the dark glass of floods. In 
the driving snow a birch wood looked like a company of dancing 
naked nymphs. Then there was another Chinese landscape of 
wooded hills furred with snow, that went on for a long time; 
they were unwinding the whole scroll for us to see. Here and 
there the scroll was damaged. The painting of the woods 
stopped abruptly, and we could see nothing but the silk on 
which the artist worked ; the hills were hidden, and there was 
nothing but the mist. Sometimes it parted and we saw a gross- 
towered, butter-coloured Sckloss. They told us what Austrian 
or Hungarian family had lived there, and what it was now : a 
textile factory, a canning plant, a convalescent home. 

It grew colder. We stopped in a little town and went into 


the hotel, and warmed ouraelves with plum brandy, which is 
the standard odd-time drink in Yugoslavia. The landlord spoke 
to us proudly of the place, telling us they had a beautiful 
memorial to some Croat patriots in the market-place, and that 
not far away they had found the skeleton of a prehistoric man. 
We said that we knew how that had happened. The poor man 
had been taken for a nice drive in the country by Gregorievitch. 
This delighted Gregorievitch ; it was pathetic to see how pleased 
he was because the young Croats could lay aside their hatred of 
Yugoslavia and joke with him for a little. He was very happy 
indeed when, because he had pretended to be aggrieved, we 
drank another round of plum brandies to his honour. Then we 
started out again, into hillier country where the snow was still 
deeper. At the top of a hill our automobile stuck in a snowdrift. 
Peasants ran out of a cottage near by, shouting with laughter 
because machinery had made a fool of itself, and dug out 
the automobile with incredible rapidity. They were doubtless 
anxious to get back and tell a horse about it. 

Thereafter the snow was so thick on the wooded hills that 
the tree-trunks were mere lines and the branches were finer than 
any lines drawn by a human hand. No detail was visible in the 
houses of the villages at the base of the hills. They were blocks 
of soft black shadow edged with the pure white fur of the snow 
on the roofs. Above the hills there was a layer of mist that drew 
a dull white smudge between this pure black-and-white world 
and the dark-grey sky. There was no colour anywhere except 
certain notes of pale bright gold made by three things. So late 
was this snowfall that the willows were well on in bud ; their 
branches were too frail to carry any weight of snow, and the 
buds were too small to be discernible, so each tree was a golden- 
green phantom against the white earth. There were also certain 
birds that were flying over the fields, bouncing in the air as if they 
were thrown by invisible giants at play ; their breasts were pale 
gold. And where the snow had been thickest on the banks of 
the road it had fallen away in a thick crust, showing primroses. 
They were the same colour as the birds’ breasts. Sometimes the 
road ran over a stream, and we looked down on the willows at 
its edge. From this aspect the snow their green-gold branches 
supported looked like a white body prostrate in woe, an angel 
that had leaped down in suicide from the ramparts of the sky. 

We saw no one. Once a horse, harsh grey against a white 


7 * 

field, gave way to that erotic panic peculiar to its species, which 
rolls the eye not only in fear but in enjoyment, that seeks to be 
soothed with an appetite revealing that it plainly knows soothing 
to be possible, and pursues what it declares it dreads. It leaped 
the low hedge and fled along the road before us ; and out of a 
farm on the further side of the field there ran a man, splendid 
in a sapphire sheepskin jacket, who remembered to close the 
door behind him as carefully as if it were not merely an extreme 
of temperature he were shutting out, but an actual destroying 
element of fire. When he caught the horse and dragged it off 
the road, our chauffeur shouted our thanks and regrets to him ; 
but he made no answer. He stood still with the horse pressing 
back its head against his shoulder, in voluptuous exaggeration 
of its distress, and from the contraction of his brows and his 
lips it could be seen that he was barely conscious of the situation 
which he was remedying, and could think of nothing but the 
intense cold. To the eye the world seemed unified by the spread- 
ing whiteness of the snow, yet actually each horse, even each 
person, was shut off from all others in an abnormal privacy by 
this pricking, burning icy air. 

We passed through a village, still as midnight at midday, 
and stone-blind, every door and window closed. " Think of 
it," said Valetta ; " in all those cottages there are sitting nothing 
but dukes and duchesses, barons and baronesses.” The peasants 
here had received an emperor handsomely when by the stupidity 
of his nobles he had found himself tired and wounded and humpy 
and alone after a day’s hunting, and he ennobled the whole 
village by patents of perfect validity. And a little further on 
was our journey’s end. We got out of the automobile and found 
ourselves at a lodge gateway with extravagant stables behind 
it, and what were recognisably " grounds ’’ beyond it, the kind 
of grounds that were made in England during the nineteenth 
century after the Georgian and Regency schools of landscape 
gardening, shrubby and expensive and futile ; these sloped to the 
base of an extremely steep sugar-loaf hill which had something 
like Balliol on the top of it. As we gaped a mist swooped on us 
and all was suddenly veiled by the whirling confetti of a gentle 
snowstorm. Not unnaturally, nobody was about. 

“ What can have happened to them all ? ’’ asked Gregorie- 
vitch. He went and pounded on the door of the porter’s lodge, 
and when an astonished face appeared at the upper windows 


7 * 

he demanded, " And where is Nikolai ? Why is Nikolai not 
here to meet us ? ” " He is up at the castle," said the porter ; 
“ he did not think you would ^ coming.” “ Thought we were 
not coming I ” exclaimed Gregorievitch, " what made him 
think we were not coming ? " It had distressed him very much 
to find that Valetta and the Croats and my husband and I 
seemed unable to gp'asp the common-sense point of view that if 
one wanted to see a castle one went and saw it, no matter 
what the weather, since the castle would certainly be there, no 
matter what the weather ; but he had excused it because we 
were by way of being intellectuals and therefore might be ex- 
pected to be a little fanciful. Here, however, were quite simple 
people who were talking the same sort of nonsense. He said 
testily, “ Well, we will go up and find him for ourselves.” We 
climbed the sugar-loaf hill by whimsically contrived paths and 
stone steps ; among fir trees that were striped black and white 
like zebras, because of the branches and the layer of white snow 
that lay on each of them, while the porter, who was now invisible 
to us through the snow, cried up to the castle, ” Nikolai ! Nikolai ! 
They have come ! ” I was warm because I was wearing a 
squirrel coat, but all the men were shaking with cold, and we 
were all up to our knees in snow. At last we came to a walk 
running round some ramparts, and Nikolai, who was a very 
handsome young peasant with golden hair and blue eyes framed 
by long lashes, dropped the broom with which he had been 
trying to clear a path for us and ran towards Gregorievitch, 
crying, “ How brave you are to make such a journey in this 
weather I ” " Lord above us,” said Gregorievitch, " what does 
everybody mean ? Open the door, open the door ! ” 

When the door was opened the point of this fierce Arctic 
journey proved to be its pointlessness. For indeed there was 
nothing in the castle to match the wildness of the season, of the 
distraught horses and the wavering birds, of Gregorievitch and 
his people. A fortress six hundred years old had been encased 
in a vast building executed in that baronial style which owed 
so much more to literary than to architectural inspiration, having 
been begotten by Sir Walter Scott, and though the family which 
owned it had been unusually intelligent, and free-minded to the 
point of being Croatian patriots, their riches had brought them 
under the cultural, influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 
So there were acres of walls covered from floor to ceiling with 



hunting trophies. These never, in any context, give an impres- 
sion of fulness. I remembered the story of the old Hungarian 
count who was heard to mutter as he lay dying, " And then the 
Lord will say, ' Count, what have you done with your life ? ’ and 
I shall have to say, ‘ Lord, I have shot a great many animals.' 
Oh, dear ! Oh, dear ! It doesn’t seem enough.” Nobody but 
the fool despises hunting, which is not only a pleasure of a 
high degree, but a most valuable form of education in any 
but a completely mechanised state. Marmont, who was one of 
Napoleon’s most intelligent marshals, in his memoirs explains 
that he was forced to hunt every day from two o’clock to night- 
fall from the time he was twelve, and this put him into such 
perfect training that no ordeal to which he was subjected in all 
his military career ever disconcerted him. But as a sole offering 
to the Lord it was not enough, and it might be doubted if this 
was the right kind of hunting. These trophies spoke of nine- 
teenth-century sport, which "was artificial, a matter of reared 
beasts procured for the guns by peasants, and so essentially 
sedentary that the characteristic sportsman of the age, com- 
memorated in photographs, had a remarkable paunch. 

There was also a clutterment of the most hideous furniture of 
the sort that was popular in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 
the second half of the nineteenth century, walloping stuff bigger 
than any calculations of use could have suggested, big in accord- 
ance with a vulgar idea that bigness is splendid, and afflicted 
with carving that made even the noble and austere substances 
of wood ignoble as fluff. It would have been interesting to 
know where they had put the old furniture that must have been 
displaced by these horrors. One of the most beautiful exhibi- 
tions in Vienna, the Mobiliendepot, in the Mariahilfestrasse, 
was composed chiefly of the Maria Theresa and Empire furni- 
ture which the Emperor Franz Josef and the Empress Elizabeth 
banished to their attics when they had refurnished their palaces 
from the best Arms in the Tottenham Court Road. 

There were also a great many bad pictures of the same era : 
enormous flushed nudes which would have set a cannibal’s 
mouth watering; immense and static pictures showing what 
historical events W'ould have looked like if all the personages had 
been stuffed first ; and one of the family had over-indulged in the 
pleasures of amateur art. She herself had been a woman of 
enormous energy ; a fashionable portrait painter had repre- 


seated her, full of the uproarious shire-horse vitality common to 
the Women admired by Edward VII, standing in a pink-satin 
ball dress and lustily smelling a large bouquet of fat roses in a 
massive crystal vase, apparently about to draw the flowers 
actually out of the water by her powerful inhalations. This 
enormous energy had covered yards of the castle walls with 
pictures of Italian peasant girls holding tambourines, lemon 
branches or amphorae, which exactly represented what is meant 
by the French word “ niaiserie”. 

There were also some portraits of male members of the 
family, physically superb, in the white-and-gold uniform of 
Hungarian generals, solemnised and uplifted by the belief that 
they had mastered a ritual that served the double purpose of 
establishing their personal superiority and preserving civilisation 
as they knew it ; it was as pathetic to see them here as it would be 
to go into the garret of a starving family to see the picture of some 
of its members who had been renowned on the stage as players 
of kings and emperors. It might be said that though all these 
things were poor in themselves, they represented a state superior 
to the barbaric origins of Croatian society. But it was not so, 
for the family portraits which depicted the generations of the 
late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries showed people with 
their heads held high by pride and their features organised by 
intelligence, set on canvas by artists at least as accomplished and 
coherent in vision as the painters of our Tudor portraits. They 
gave documentary proof that German influence had meant 
nothing but corruption. 

The corruption was profound. I left my companions at one 
point and turned back to a bedroom, to look again from its 
windows on an enchanting view of a little lake, now a pure sheet 
of snow, which lay among some groves below the sugar-loaf hill. 
1 found Gregorievitch sitting on the window-sill, with his back 
to the view, looking about him at the hideous pictures and 
furniture with a dreamy and absorbed expression. " It would 
be very pleasant to live this way," he said, without envy, but 
with considerable appetite. This was the first time I had 
heard him say anything indicating that he had ever conceived 
living any life other than his own, which had been dedicated to 
pain and danger and austerity ; and I could be sure that it was 
not the money of the people who lived in the castle, not the great 
fires that warmed them or the ample meals they ate, it was 



their refinement that he envied, their access to culture. I had 
never thought before what mischief a people can suffer from 
domination by their enemies. This man had lived his whole life 
to free Croatia from Hungarian rule ; he had been seduced into 
exalting Hungarian values above Croatian values by what was 
an essential part of his rebellion. He had had to tell himself 
and other people over and over again that the Hungarians were 
taking the best of everything and leaving the worst to the Croats, 
which was indeed true so far as material matters were con- 
cerned. But the human mind, if it is framing a life of action, 
cannot draw fine distinctions. He had ended by believing that 
the Hungarians had had the best of everything in all respects, 
and that this world of musty antlers and second-rate pictures 
and third-rate furniture was superior to the world where peasants 
sang in church with the extreme discriminating fervour which 
our poets envy, knowing themselves lost without it, and wore 
costumes splendid in their obedience to those principles of 
design which our painters envy, knowing themselves lost without 
instinctive knowledge of them. 

On the way to the sanatorium the party was now more silent. 
The young men were hungry, we had all of us wet feet, the sky 
threatened more snow, and the houses were now few and widely 
scattered. We could understand enough to realise that it was 
worrying them a little that if the automobiles broke down we 
should have a long distance to walk before we found shelter. 
Nobody, however, seemed to blame Gregorievitch. It was felt 
that he was following his star. 

It was not till after an hour and a half that we arrived at the 
sanatorium, which was a fine baroque castle set on a hill, once 
owned by the same family which had owned the other castle, but 
now abandoned because the lands all around it had been taken 
away and given to peasant tenants under the very vigorous 
Agrarian Reform Scheme which the Yugoslavian Government 
put into effect after the war. This visit was less of an anti- 
climax than the other, for here was the real Slav quality. As 
we came to the gates a horde of people rushed out to meet us, 
and as my husband, who finds one of his greatest pleasures in 
inattention, had never grasped that this castle had been con- 
verted into a sanatorium, he believed them to be the family 
retainers, and wondered that such state could be kept up nowa- 
days. But they were only the patients. They rushed out, men 


and women and children, all mixed together, some wearing 
ordinary Western costume, and some in peasant costume ; smne 
of the men wore the Moslem fez, for the Health Insurance 
Society which manages the sanatorium draws its members from 
all over Yugoslavia. They looked strangely unlike hospital 
patients. There was not the assumption of innocence which is 
noticeable in all but the wilder inmates of an English institution, 
the tramps and the eccentrics ; not the pretence that they like 
starched sheets as a boundary to life, that the authority of doctors 
and nurses is easy to accept and reasonable in action, that a little 
larking is the only departure from hospital routine they could 
possibly desire, that they were as Sunday-school children mind- 
ful of their teachers. These people stood there, dark, inquisitive, 
critical, our equals, fully adult. 

This was, of course, partly due to their racial convictions. 
Many of them came from parts of Yugoslavia where there is still 
no trace of a class system, where there were only peasants. 
They had therefore not the same sense that in going into hospital 
a worker placed himself in the hands of his superior, and that 
he must please him by seeming undangerous. But also as it 
appeared when we went into the doctor’s room, the theory of 
illness was not the same as in a Western European hospital. We 
found there the superintendent, who was a Serb though long 
resident in Croatia and pro-Croat in politics, and his three Croat 
assistants who all had an oddly unmedical air to English eyes. 
I do not mean that they looked unbusinesslike ; on the contrary, 
each of them had a sturdy air of competence and even power. 
But there was in their minds no vista of shiny hospital corridors, 
leading to Harley Street and the peerage, with blameless tailor- 
ing and courtesy to patients and the handling of committees as 
subsidiary obligations, such as appears before most English 
doctors. There was no sense that medical genius must frustrate 
its own essential quality, which is a fierce concentration on the 
truth about physical problems, by cultivating self-restraint and 
a conventional blankness which are incompatible with any 
ardent pursuit. These people had an air of pure positiveness 
which amounted to contentiousness. They might have been 

They were bull-fighters, of course. The bull was tuberculosis. 
The formalities of our reception were got over in a minute. Had 
I been visiting a sanatorium in England cold and with wet feet 



I would have had to go to the matron’s room, and time would 
have been wasted. Here we shook hands, hurried to the radia- 
tors, sat down on them, took off our shoes, and pressed our 
stocking soles against the warm iron, while the doctors talked 
their tauromachy around us. Did we know that tuberculosis 
was the scourge of Southern Slavs ? It had to be so, because 
the country was being rapidly industrialised. Peasants came to 
the town blankly ignorant of hygiene, drawn by wages that 
looked high on paper and were in fact far too low to buy proper 
housing or clothing ; and there was still so little hospital treat- 
ment that a tuberculosis case was as likely as not to remain 
untreated and spread infection. And this was not because they 
were Balkans. They said that with a sudden leap of fire to their 
eyes, which could be understood by anyone who has heard 
Germans or Austrians use the adjective Balkan, with a hawking 
excess of gross contempt. We English, they said, had had just as 
much tuberculosis at the beginning of the nineteenth century. 

I have acquired, painfully enough, some knowledge of sana- 
toria ; and looking round me as they talked, I could see that in a 
way this sanatorium was frightful and, in another, most excellent, 
The first door we opened showed us the anachronistic character 
of the building in which it had been installed. We stepped 
suddenly into the opaque darkness, the inconquerable midday 
chill, of the family chapel, with a gilt and bosomy baroque 
Virgin and half a dozen cherubs ballooning above the altar, 
and two of the family gaunt in marble on their tombs. A con- 
gregation of nuns, each a neat little core to a great sprawling 
fruit of black-and-white robes, swivelled round on their knees 
to see who the intruders might be, and the Mother Superior, 
with a gesture of hospitality completely in consonance with the 
air of the presiding Virgin behind the altar, ceased the chanting 
of the service until we had ended our visit. Such a gesture had 
probably not been made in Western Europe for three hundred 
years. I do not believe it is easy to convert to hospital use a 
seventeenth-century castle built on three storeys round an 
immense courtyard, with immensely high rooms and floors of 
stone and marble, and to staff it with people so much in accord 
with that same century that to them everything on the margin 
of hygiene, the whole context of life in which the phrase of 
science appears, must have been wholly incomprehensible. 

But the place was clean, fantastically clean, clean like a 


battleship. There at least was something that an English, 
hospital authority would have had to approve ; perhaps, how- 
ever, the only thing they could. The patients within doors were 
shocking to Western theories as they had been when they had 
met us out of doors on our arrival. They were evidently pre- 
occupied with the imaginative realisation of their sickness, and 
no one was attempting to interfere with them in their pleasure. 
This was a visiting day ; and in what had been the grand 
drawing-room of the ladies of the castle, a large apartment 
adorned with sugary Italianate late nineteenth-century murals 
representing the islands of the blest, women sat holding their 
handkerchiefs to their lips with the plangent pathos of La Dame 
aux Camillas, and men assumed the sunrise mixed with sunset 
glamour of the young Keats, while their families made no 
attempt to distract them from these theatrical impersonations 
but watched with sympathy, as audiences should. The patients 
who had no visitors were resting ; and when we went into the 
wards they were lying on their beds, the quilts drawn over their 
mouths, the open windows showing a firmament unsteadily yet 
regularly cleft by the changing stripes of snowfall. Shivering, 
they stared at us, their eyes enormous over the edges of their 
quilts, enjoying at its most dramatic the sense of the difference 
between our health and their disease ; and indeed in the dark 
beam of their hypnotic and hypnotised gaze the strangeness of 
their plight became newly apparent, the paradox of the necessity 
which obliged them to accept as a saviour the cold which their 
bodies believed to be an enemy, and to reject as death the 
warmth which was the known temperature of life. The doctors 
beside us appeared to take for granted this atmosphere of poetic 
intensity, and made none of the bouncing gestures, none of the 
hollow invocations to optimism which in England are perpetually 
inflicted on any of the sick who show consciousness of their state. 
The tolerance of these doctors, indeed, was wide. As we passed 
along a corridor overlooking the courtyard, there trembled, in 
one of the deep recesses each window made in the thickness of 
the wall, a shadow that was almost certainly two shadows, fused 
by a strong preference. " Yes,” said the superintendent, “ they 
sometimes fall in love, and it is a very good thing. It sometimes 
makes all the difference, they get a new appetite for living, and 
then they do so well.” That was the answer to all our Western 
scruples. The patients were doing so well. Allowed to cast 



themselves for great tragic roles, they were experiencing the 
exhilaration felt by great tragic actors. It was not lack of con- 
trol, lack of taste, lack of knowledge that accounted for per- 
mission of what was not permitted in the West. Rather was 
it the reverse. Our people could not have handled patients full 
of the dangerous thoughts of death and love ; these people had 
such resources that they did not need to empty their patients of 
such freight. 

The doctors themselves were living richly. They were enjoy- 
ing the sense of power which comes to the scientist when he 
applies his knowledge to a primitive people. They talked of the 
peasants as of beautiful and vigorous animals that have to be 
coaxed and trapped and bludgeoned into submitting to the 
treatment which will keep alive the dame in their bodies without 
which they will have neither beauty nor vigour. So, of course, 
do any colonial administrators ; but these doctors cared for 
loveliness with the uncorrupted eye of an unmechanised race, 
and though they were divided from the patients by the gulf that 
divides a university graduate from a peasant, that gulf was 
bridged by the consciousness that they all were Slavs and that 
their forebears had all been peasants together. Each of these 
doctors was a magician who was working his spells to save his 
father and his mother. It is this same, situation, I imagine, 
which is responsible for the peculiar enthusiasm shown by 
officials engaged in the social services in Soviet Russia. This is 
often regarded as a specific effect of a Communist regime, but 
it could certainly be matched all over the Balkans, in all the 
Baltic provinces that were formerly under the Tsardom, and in 
Turkey. The old and the new sometimes make an intoxicating 
fusion. These doctors were enchanted with their X-ray depart- 
ment and their operating theatre where they had a pretty record 
of successful collapses of the lung, and they were enchanted, 
too, when they hurried us down the corridors, down a staircase 
of stone so old that it was black as iron, and through a door of 
wood so old that it shone as glass, to a vast kitchen, obscure in 
its great vaulted roof, glowing near the fires which were roaring 
like the night wind in a forest. At long tables half as thick as 
tree-trunks, pretty nuns in white robes put the last touches to 
that state of order which women make twice a day after meals 
and live only to unmake. The prettiest one of all we found in a 
store-room half the size of my flat in London, standing by a 


table covered with the little sweet biscuits made of nuts and 
meringue and fine pastry which are loved in every Slav country. 
We caught her eating one. She swallowed it in a gulp, and faced 
out the men's roar of laughter in the most serene confusion 
imaginable, smiling, with some tiny crumbs caught in the fair 
down on her upper lip. It was then that somebody remembered 
that our dinner was ready for us. 

We were taken up to the doctors’ mess and set before a 
further exhibition of antique plenty. There was a river of plum 
brandy somewhere near, it seemed. Then, to begin with, there 
was a platter of cold meat such as I never expected to eat in my 
life again. There was sucking-pig so delicate that it could be 
spread on bread like butter, and veal and ham and sausage and 
tongue, all as superb in their austerer way, and slabs of butter 
and fat cheese. Then there were pancakes, stuffed with chopped 
steak and mushrooms and chicken’s livers, and then spring 
chicken served with a border of moist and flavoursome rice on 
a bed of young vegetables, and it appeared that there was also 
a river of white wine near by. And then there was a compote 
of quinces, cherries and peaches, served with a slack of little 
biscuits, like the one wc had found the pretty nun eating. We 
ate and drank enormously. Valetta said in my car, " You really 
must cat, you know. They will think you dislike their food if 
you do not. It is our Slav custom to give our guests too much 
to eat, as a kind of boastfulness, and of course out of goodwill, 
and the guests show how strong they are by eating it. We are 
really a very primitive people, I am afraid.” I did not complain, 
and we ate without interruption, save when a nun put her head 
round the door, and w'ith round eyes cried out an announcement. 
The superintendent spoke to one of the younger doctors who 
took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and ran from the room 
at the double. " Two of the patients have been talking politics,” 
explained the superintendent ; “ it is not allowed, but some- 
times they do it. However it is not really serious, they have no 
weapons. But go on eating, go on eating. All our food is raised 
on the land belonging to the sanatorium or round it, and pre- 
pared by our good nuns. And mind you, the patients have the 
same food as you are having. This is a feast for distinguished 
visitors, of course, but at all times wc give them plenty, for it is 
cheap and we have no need to skimp it.” ” Yes,” said another 
of the doctors, waving his glass at me, “ we send the patients 



home five and ten and fifteen kilos heavier.*' 

Here was the authentic voice of the Slav. These people hold 
that the way to make life better is to add good things to it, 
whereas in the West we hold that the way to make life better is 
to take bad things away from it. With us, a satisfactory hospital 
patient is one who, for the time being at least, has been castrated 
of all adult attributes. With us, an acceptable doctor is one 
with all asperities characteristic of gifted men rubbed down by 
conformity with social standards to a shining, comerless bland- 
ness. With us, a suitable hospital diet is food from which 
everything toxic and irritant has been removed, the eunuchised 
pulp of steamed fish and stewed prunes. Here a patient could 
be adult, primitive, dusky, defensive ; if he chose to foster a 
poetic fantasy or personal passion to tide him over his crisis, so 
much the better. It was the tuberculosis germ that the doctor 
wanted to alter, not the patient ; and that doctor himself might 
be just like another man, provided he possessed also a fierce 
intention to cure. To him the best hospital diet would be 
that which brought the most juices to the mouth ; and there 
was not the obvious flaw in the argument that one might think, 
for the chicken and the compote were the standard dishes of any 
nursing-home, but these were good to eat. One of the doctors 
raised his glass to me ; I raised my glass to him, enjoying the 
communion with this rich world that added instead of subtract- 
ing. I thought of the service at Shestine, and its unfamiliar 
climate. The worshippers in Western countries come before the 
altar with the desire to subtract from the godhead and them- 
selves ; to subtract benefits from the godhead by prayer, to 
subtract their dangerous adult qualities by affecting childishness. 
The worshippers at Shestine had come before the altar with a 
habit of addition, which made them pour out the gift of their 
adoration on the godhead, which made them add to themselves 
by imaginative realisation the divine qualities which they were 
contemplating in order to adore. The effect had been of enor- 
mous, reassuring natural wealth ; and that was what I had found 
in Yugoslavia on my first visit. I had come on stores of wealth 
as impressive as the rubies of Golconda or the gold of Klondyke, 
which took every form except actual material wealth. Now the 
superintendent was proposing the health of my husband and 
myself, and when he said, '* We are doing our best here, but we 
are a poor country,” it seemed to me he was being as funny as 


rich people who talk to their poor relations about the large 
amount they have to pay in income tax. 

“ But since they have this Slav abundance here and at 
Shestine,” I wondered, “ why have I had so little enjoyment of 
it since I arrived ? ” 

But my attention was caught by a crack that had suddenly 
begun to fissure the occasion. The superintendent had been 
telling my husband and me what pleasure he had in welcoming 
U8 to Croatia, when Gregoricvitch had leaned across the table 
and corrected him. “ To Yugoslavia,” he said in the accents of 
a tutor anxious to recall his pupil to truth and accuracy. There 
fellasilence. " To Yugoslavia," he repeated. Severity still lived 
in his brows, which he brought together by habit. But his eyes 
were stricken ; so does an old dog look when it hopes against 
hope that the young master will take him out on a walk. After 
another silence, the superintendent said, “ Yes, I will say that 
1 welcome them to Yugoslavia. Who am 1, being a Serb, to 
refuse this favour to a Croat ? ” They all laughed kindly at 
Gregorievitch after that ; but there had sounded for an instant 
the authentic wail of poverty, in its dire extreme, that is caused by 
a certain kind of politics. Such politics we know very well in 
Ireland. They grow on a basis of past injustice. A proud 
people acquire a habit of resistance to foreign oppression, and 
by the time they have driven out their oppressors they have 
forgotten that agreement is a pleasure and that a society which 
has attained tranquillity will be able to pursue many delightful 
ends. There they continue to wrangle, finding abundant material 
in the odds and ends of injustices that are left over from the 
period of tyranny and need to be tidied up in one way or another. 
Such politics are a leak in the community. Generous passion, 
pure art, abstract thought, run through it and are lost. There 
remain only the obstinate solids which cannot be dissolved by 
argument or love, the rubble of hate and prejudice and malice, 
which are of no price. The process is never absolute, since in 
all lands some people arc born with the inherent sweetness which 
closes that leak, but it can exist to a degree that alarms by the 
threat of privation affecting ail the most essential goods of life • 
and in Croatia I had from time to time felt very poor. 



Zagreb TV 

There is no end to political disputation in Croatia. None. 

Because we were walking near the vegetable market we trod 
on a mosaic of red and green cabbage leaves, orange peel and 
grey stone. I directed the attention of Valetta and Constantine 
to its beauty, and I even became ecstatic over it ; but I could 
not distract them from their heavy sense of disagreement. I had 
to admit that the experience I was offering them was perhaps 
insufficiently interesting, so when I found myself in front of a 
cage where a grey-and-pink parrot sat before a card index of 
destinies, I was glad to cry, “ Let us have our fortunes told ! ” 
But Constantine and Valetta each looked at the bird with eyes 
smouldering with hope that the other would have no future 
whatsoever. So I put in my dinar and the bird picked out a 
card ; and when I gave it to Valetta, he burst out laughing and 
threw it back to me. Oh, wise bird I It says, ‘ You are sur- 
rounded by the wrong friends, you must get rid of them at 
once ! "’ He waved his cap and went laughing through the 
crowd. " Till you have obeyed, it is good-bye ! ” he cried over 
his shoulder ; and then suddenly grave, lest we should think he 
had really turned against us, he said, “ And I shall come to see 
you to-night, about seven." 

They had quarrelled all through lunch. We had spent the 
morning going round the sights of the town with a Croat lady 
and Constantine, and over the soup we told Valetta how much 
we had liked her ; and Constantine exploded : " I did not like 
her. She is not a true Slav. Did you hear what she told you 
when you were at the Health Cooperative Society Clinic ? She 
said that all such things were vety well looked after in the 
Austrian times. Yes, and she said it regretfully.” " Well, it 
was so,” said Valetta. “ Yes, it was so,” said Constantine, ” but 
we must not regret it. No true Slav would regret it. That is to 
say no true human being would say it, for if a true human being 
is a Slav, he knows that to be a Slav is what is important, 
for that is the shape which God has given him, and he should 
keep it. The Austrians sometimes pampered you, and some- 
times the Hungarians, so that each should play you off against 
the others. Benefits you get so are filth, and they spoil your 
shape as a Slav. It is better to have nearly nothing at all, and 


be a freeman with your brother Slavs." He paused, but Valetta 
was silent and went on eating. “ Do you not think it is better 7 ” 
Constantine asked him. He nodded slightly. “ Well, if you do 
not feel that strongly you can feel nothing at all ! ” said Con- 
stantine a little louder. " Oh, yes, I feel it strongly,” said 
Valetta, quite softly : and then, more softly still, “ It would be 
much better for us to be freemen with our brother Slavs.” 

For a moment Constantine was satisfied and went on eating. 
Then he threw down his knife and fork. ” What is that you are 
saying 7 It would be better . . . you mean it is not so 7 ” 
" 1 mean it is not quite so,” said Valetta. " How is it not so 7 " 
asked Constantine, lowering his head like a bull. Valetta 
shrugged his shoulders. Constantine collapsed quite suddenly, 
and asked pathetically, “ But are we not brothers, we Croats 
and Serbs 7 ” “ Yes," said Valetta. He was speaking softly, 
not, as a stranger might have thought, out of guile, but out of 
intense feeling. He was quite white. “ But in Yugoslavia,” 
he said painfully, ” it is not so. Or, rather, it is as if the Serbs 
were the elder brother and we Croats the younger brother, under 
some law as the English, which gives the elder everything and 
the younger nothing.” " Oh, I know what you think 1 ” groaned 
Constantine. “ You think that all your money goes to Belgrade, 
and you get hardly anything of it back, and we flood your 
country with Serb officials, and keep Croats out of all positions 
of real power. I know it all ! ” 

“ You may know it all,” said Valetta, " but so do we : and 
it is not a thing we can be expected to overlook.” ” I do not 
ask you to overlook it,” said Constantine, beginning to roar like 
a bull, " 1 ask you to look at it. You did not have the spending 
of your money before, when you were under Hungary. All your 
money was sent to Budapest to landlords or to tax-collectors, 
and you got some railways, yes, and some hospitals, yes, and 
some roads, yes, but not costing one-half of your money, and 
you got also Germanisation and Magyarisation, you got the 
violation of your soul. But now you are a part of Yugoslavia, 
you are a part of the kingdom of the South Slavs, which exists 
to let you keep your soul, and to guard that kingdom we must 
have an army and a navy to keep Hungary and Italy in their 
places, and we must give Serbia many things she did not have 
because Serbia was fighting the Turk when you were standing 
safe behind us, and we must do much for Bosnia, because the 



Hungarians did nothing there, and we must do everything for 
Macedonia, because the Turks were there till 1912, and we must 
drain marshes and build schools and make military roads, and 
it is all for you as well as for us, but you will not see it 1 ” 

“ Yes, I see it," said Valetta, " but if you want to found a 
strong and civilised Yugoslavia you should have brought the 
Serb schools up to the Croat level instead of bringing the Croat 
schools down to Serb level.” “ But now you show you see 
nothing at all,” wailed Constantine ; ” it is a question of money I 
It is more important that one should have good schools every- 
where than that one part of the country should have very good 
schools. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. What good 
is it to you in Croatia that your boys and girls can read the 
Hindustani and paint like Raphael if the young men in Mace- 
donia go bang-bang all night at whoever because they do not 
know anything else to do ? ” “ We might feel more confidence 
that our money went to build schools in Macedonia if it did 
not go through Belgrade,” said Valetta. “ You must forgive us 
for fearing that a great deal of it sticks in Belgrade.” " O. 
course it sticks in Belgrade ! ” said Constantine, his voice going 
high, though it is low by nature. ” We must make a capital. 
We must make a capital for your sake, because you are a ^uth 
Slav ! All Western Europeans despise us because we have a 
little capital that is not chic. They are wrong, for there is no 
reason why we should have a big capital, for we are a peasant 
state. But you must give these people what they want, and 
they are like children, it is the big shining thing that impresses 
them. Do you not remember how before the war the Austrian 
Ministers treated us like dirt, because Vienna is a place of 
baroque palaces and we had nothing but our poor town that 
had a Turkish garrison till fifty years ago, though it meant 
nothing, for at the appointed time we came down on them 
like a hammer on nutshells ? ” 

" If it were only ministries and hotels that were being built 
in Belgrade, we Croats might approve,” said Valetta, “ but we 
understand that there are many private houses which are being 
built for people who have been connected with politics.” " It 
is not true, I swear it is not true,” cried Constantine. “ Are you 
telling me,” asked Valetta, ” that all Serb officials are honest ? ” 
Constantine rocked in his seat. “ I am all for chonesty,” he 
said, giving the h its guttural sound, ” I am a very chonest 



man." And that is true : during- his life he has had the un- 
questioned administration of much money, and never has one 
penny stuck to his fingers. “ And I admit,” he continued 
heavily, " that in our ^rbia there are sometimes people -who 
are not chonest. But how could we do ? There are not enough 
people in our country to take on the administration, so many of 
us were killed in the war. Ninety per cent,” he wailed, “ ninety 
per cent of our university students were killed in the war.’’ And 
that, too, I learned afterwards, is true. ” Then why do you not 
draw on us Croats for officials ? ” asked Valetta. " There are 
many Croats whom nobody in the world would dare to call un- 
trustworthy.” “ But how can we let you Croats be officials ? ” 
spluttered Constantine. “ You are not loyal ! ” “ And how,” 
asked Valetta, white to the lips, “ can we be expected to be loyal 
if you always treat us like this ? ” " But I am telling you,” 

grieved Constantine, “ how can we treat you differently till you 
are loyal ? ” 

It is an absolute deadlock ; and the statement of it filled the 
heart with desolation. Constantine pushed away his plate and 
said, ” Valetta, I will tell you what is the matter with you.” 
“ But we can see nothing the matter with either of you,” I inter- 
vened. " After we left you at the Health Cooperative Clinic the 
Croat lady took us to the Ethnographical Museum. What 
genius you Slav peoples have I I have never seen such a wealth 
of design, provoked by all sorts of objects al-vcays to perfection. 
A dress, an Easter egg, a butter-churn.” I knew that my inter- 
vention was feeble, but it was the best I could do. I find that 
this always happens -when I try to interrupt Slavs who are 
quarrelling. They draw all the energy out of the air by the 
passion of their debate, so that anything outside its orbit can 
only flutter trivially. " I -will tell you what is the matter with 
you,” repeated Constantine, silencing me with his hand. “ Here 
in Croatia you are lawyers as well as soldiers. You have been 
good lawyers, and you have been lawyers all the time. For 
eight hundred years you have had your proces against Hungary. 
You have quibbled over phrases in the diploma inaugurate of 
your kings, you have WTangled about the power of your Ban, 
you have sawed arguments about regna soda axiA partes adnexae, 
you have chattered like Jackdaws over your rights under the 
Dual Monarchy, you have covered acres of paper discussing the 
Hungaro-Croatian compromise. And so it is that you are now 



more la'wyers than soldiers, for it is not since the eighteenth cen- 
tury that you have fought the Tirrks, and you fought against the 
Magyars only a little time. But now we are making Yugoslavia 
we must feel not like lawyers but like soldiers, we must feel in 
a large way about the simple matter of saving our lives. You 
must cast away all your little rights and say that we have a big 
right, the right of the Slavs to be together, and we must sacrifice 
all our rights to protect that great right." 

Valetta shrugged his shoulders once more. “ What have you 
against that ? " roared Constantine. " I will tell you what is 
the matter with you. You are an intellectual, you are all intel- 
lectuals here in the bad sense. You boast because Zagreb is an 
old town, but that it is a great pity for you. Everywhere else in 
Serbia is a new town, and though we have novelists and poets 
and all, they have not been in no town not more than not one 
generation." (This is good Serbian grammar, which piles up its 
negatives.) " So what the peasant knows they also know. 
They know that one must not work against, one must work with. 
One ploughs the earth that would not be ploughed, certainly, 
but one falls in with the earth’s ideas so much as to sow it with 
seed in the spring and not in the winter or in the summer. But 
in the town you do not know that, you can go through life and 
you can work against all, except the motor car and the railway 
train and the tram, them you must not charge with your head 
down, but all other things you can. So you are intellectuals. 
The false sort that are always in opposition. My God, my God, 
how easy it is to be an intellectual in opposition to the man of 
action ! He can always be so much cleverer, he can always pick 
out the little faults. But to make, that is more difficult. So it 
is easier to be a critic than to be a poet.” He flung down a fork 
suddenly. “ But I should say it is easier to be a bad critic. To 
be a great critic you must make sometimes and know how it is 
in your own self to make well or badly. That is why I am a 
great critic. I am also a great poet. But you are not poets, you 
Croats, you do not make. You are always little and clever, you 
are always in opposition winning points as if it were a game." 
He flung himself on his jam pancakes like a hungry lion, then, 
with his mouth full, roared again, “ All of you in Zagreb are 
the same. I have been in the caf6s every night and the Croats 
all say to me, * It is disgusting, the trade pact you in Belgrade 
have made with Italy 1 ' And who are the Croats, who took 


Italian help to kill our King, who are howling always that your 
peasants are so poor, to attack us if we swallow our pride and 
for the sake of getting the peasants a little money make a trade 
pact with the Italians ? Ach, in all your little ways you are 
very terrible.” 

For a time Valetta did not answer. It is a considerable part 
of the Croat argument that Croats do not shout in restaurants 
and do not speak at all with their mouths full. “ You would say 
we were well-governed here ? ” he asked presently. “ You 
would say that nobody is arrested without cause and thrown 
into prison and treated barbarously ? You would say that 
nobody has been tortured in Croatia since it became Yugo- 
slavia ? " He was trembling, and such sick horror passed across 
his face that I am sure he was recollecting atrocities which he 
had seen with his own eyes, at which his own bowels had revolted. 
Constantine nearly cried. " Ah, God 1 it is their fault." he pled, 
indicating my husband and myself with his thumb. “ These 
English are hypocrites, they pretend you govern people without 
using force, because there are many parts of the Empire where 
they govern only people who want to be governed. It is not 
necessary to use force in Canada and Australia, so they pretend 
that there is the general rule, though in India where the people 
do not want to be governed many people are beaten and im- 
prisoned. And for that I do not blame the English. It must 
be done if one race has to have power over another ; that is why 
it is wrong for one race to have power over another, and that is 
why we must have a Yugoslavia, a self-governing kingdom of 
the South Slavs, and why we should make all possible sacrifices 
for Yugoslavia.” “ I see the argument,” said Valetta ; “ we 
are to let Serbs torture us Croats, because under Yugoslavia we 
are not to be tortured by the Italians and Hungarians.” " Oh, 
God ! Oh, God ! ” cried Constantine, " I am glad that I am 
not a Croat, but a Serb, for though I myself am a very clever 
man, the Serbs are not a very clever people ; that has not been 
their business, their business has been to drive out the Turks and 
keep their independence from the Austrians and the Germans, 
so their strong point is that they can open doors by butting 

them with their heads. Believe me, in such a position as ours 

that is more important. But my God, my God, do you know 
what I feel like doing when I talk to you Croats ? I feel like 
rolling up my coat and lying down in the middle of the street, 



and putting my head on my coat, and saying to the horses and 
motor cars, ‘ Drive on, I am disgusted.’ What is so horrible in 
this conversation is that you are never wrong, but I am always 
right, and we could go on talking like this for ever, till the clever 
way you are never wrong brought death upon us." " Some 
have died already," said Valetta. 

Zagreb V 

The rest of the afternoon was to prove to us that Constantine 
was to some extent right, and that the Croat is weakened by 
Austrian influence as by a profound malady. 

When Valetta had left us in front of the parrot’s cage, 
Constantine said, “ Now we must hurry, for we have two things 
to do this afternoon. We must see the treasury of the Cathedral 
and then we must go to the dancer who has promised to dance 
for us in her apartment." He walked beside us very glumly, 
looking at the pavement, and then burst out : “ I do not know 
why you trouble yourself with that young man, he is not of 
importance, he is quite simply a Croat, a typical Croat." After 
a silence we came to the square in front of the Cathedral. He 
burst out again : " They do appalling things and they make us 
do appalling things, these Croats. When God works through 
the Croats He works terribly. I will tell you what once happened 
in the war. There was a hill in Serbia that we were fighting for 
all night with the Austrian troops. Sometimes we had it, and 
sometimes they had it, and at the end we wholly had it, and 
when they charged us we cried to them to surrender, and through 
the night they answered, ‘ The soldiers of the Empire do not 
surrender,’ and it was in our own tongue they spoke So we 
knew they were our brothers the Croats, and because they were 
our brothers we knew that they meant it, and so they came 
against us, and we had to kill them, and in the morning they all 
lay dead, and they were all our brothers." 

Just then, the face of the Cathedral rose pearly-brown above 
us. Constantine tiptoed to the sacristan and said that we wanted 
to see the treasury, and there began a scurrying quest for the 
key. A sacristan in ordinary breeches and shirt-sleeves was 
carrying away the tubs of oleanders that had decorated the altar 
during Easter. His face was pursed with physical effort and an 


objection to it, and the oleander branches waved about him like 
the arms of a vegetable Sabine. “ They are a long time seeking 
the key,” said Constantine wearily, leaning against a pillar and 
looking up to its high flowering. “ I would not have you think 
that the Croats are not good people. All Slavs are good people. 
They were the best soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 
All, all said so, on all the fronts. Hey, what is this ? ” A priest 
had come to say that the key had had to be sent for, that it 
would come soon. He then ran towards a little door through 
which five or six other people ran constantly during the next 
quarter of an hour, on errands connected with the finding of the 
key. ” Now I as a Serb do not think it is as important that 
the key should be found quickly as you English would do," said 
Constantine, " but I would point out to you that in Zagreb also 
the key is not found in the quick English tempo. Yet I am sure 
that here they say to you all day, ‘ We are not as the Serbs in 
Belgrade, here we are business-like, we do things as they are 
done in Vienna.’ ” And it was true. So they had said to us 
constantly in the banks and hotels and museums. 

At last a priest came with the key in his hand, and took us 
up a stone staircase to the treasury which had an enormous 
safe-door, affixed after the theft of a tenth-century ivory diptych, 
which was discovered some years later in the museum at Cleve- 
land, Ohio. The safe-door took quite a long time to open, it 
was so very elaborate. Then the priest went in and immediately 
ran out with a chalice of which he was evidently very proud, 
though it was not very di.stinguishcd late sixteenth-century work. 
For some reason all Croat priests both in Croatia and Dalmatia 
have a special liking for dull Renaissance work. Byzantine 
work they value for its antiquity only, and its lavish use of 
precious metals, and medieval work they usually despise for its 
uncouthness. The priest was quite ecstatic about this chalice, 
which he put down on a little rickety table on the landing out- 
side the treasury, and made us stand and admire it for some 
time. Then he said that we must see the jew’elled mitre of a 
sixteenth-century bishop, and he showed us into the treasury. 
After we had looked at the silver we were shown the diptych, 
which is pleasing but not satisfying, because it lacks spacious- 
ness. The figures are the right hieroglyphics ; they could spell 
out a magic message, but they do not, because they are so 
crowded ; it is like a poem printed with the words run together. 



We were shown also the sham diptych, which was substituted 
by the thief for the real one so that the theft went undetected for 
some days. This was a surprising story, for though the copy 
reproduced all the details of the original, it was with such 
infidelity, such falsity of proportion and value, that the two were 
quite unlike in effect. It is possible that the copy was carved in 
some centre of craftsmanship, perhaps in Italy, by somebody 
who had never seen the original but worked from a photograph. 

While we were discussing this the priest uttered a sharp cry 
and ran out of the room, while Constantine burst into laughter. 
He explained, " He has remembered that he has left the chalice 
on the table outside.” I said, “ But why do you laugh ? It is 
a thing that any of us might have done.” “ But it is not,” said 
Constantine. " Your husband would not have done it at all, 
because he is English. You might or might not have done it, 
because you are a woman, and so of course you have no very 
definite personality. But I would have been sure to do it, and 
the priest was sure to do it. But because I am a Serb I know I 
am sure to do it, while because he is a Croat he thinks he is like a 
German or an Englishman and will not do it. Of course I must 
laugh. It is the same funny thing as about the key.” 

When the priest came back he showed us the illuminated 
psalters and bibles ; and in one of them we fell on the record of 
what is always pleasing, a liberal and humanist soul which 
found perfect satisfaction and a refuge from troubled times in 
the church. On the margins of his holy book he painted towns 
set on bays where it would be good to swim, meadows where 
spring had smiled four hundred years and was not tired, and 
rosy nudes with their flesh made sound by much passive exercise. 
We would have thought that the man who painted so was at ease 
with the world had we not turned a page and found proof that 
he was nothing of the kind. With unbroken sweetness but in 
perplexed misery, he painted a hunter lying asleep in the woods 
and peopled the glades with his dream. The hunter is spitted 
before a lively fire by hinds who sniff in the good roasting smell, 
while hares chase hounds lather-mouthed with fright and cram 
their limp bodies into baskets, and by every stroke of the brush 
it is asked, “ What are blue seas and the spring and lovely 
bodies so long as there are pain and cruelty ? ” He spoke to us 
for one second out of the past and instantly returned there, for 
the priest preferred that we looked at his vestments rather than 

9 * 


at this books. " And indeed they are very beautiful,” said Con- 
stantine. They were of embroidered damask and stamped 
velvet, for the most part of Italian provenance, some as old as 
the sixteenth century. “ But how poor they look ! ’’ 1 said. 
“ You are hard to please,” he said. " No, I am not,” I said, 
“ but compared to the design we saw in the Ethnographical 
Museum these seem so limited and commonplace.” 

I was not flattering Constantine. The designs on the vest- 
ments were of that Renaissance kind which, if one sees them in 
a museum and tries to draw them, distress one by their arbitrari- 
ness. They partake neither of naturalism nor of geometrical 
pattern ; they often depict flowers set side by side to make 
harmonies of colour and united by lines whose unpleasant lack 
of composition is disguised by those harmonies. The designs 
in the Slav embroideries are based on sound line, on line that 
is potent and begets as it moves, so that in copying it the pencil 
knows no oppposition ; it is, as Constantine would say, “ work- 
ing with ”. Also the Slav designs have great individuality while 
keeping loyal to a defined tradition, whereas the Italian designs 
follow a certain number of defined models. " You are right,” 
said Constantine benignly. “ We are a wonderful people. 
That is why wc want to be Slavs and nothing else. All else is 
too poor for us. But now we must go to the dancer ; she is 
having the accompanist specially for us, so wc must not be late." 

The dancer lived on the top floor of a modern apartment 
house. The blond floor of her practice room shone like a pool 
under the strong light from the great windows, and though her 
accompanist had not yet come, she was swaying and circling 
over it like a bird flying low over the water, as swallows do 
before rain. She turned at the end of the room and danced back 
to greet us. She had that vigorous young beauty that seems 
to carry its keen cold about with it. Her eyes were bright and 
her cheeks glowed as if she were not really here, as if she were 
running on her points up the cornices of a snow peak to a fairy 
ice-palace. She had the most relevant of beauties for her trade, 
the bird foot that bom dancers have, that Nijinsky had to per- 
fection. Before she got to us she stopped and pointed to a 
gilded laurel wreath that hung on the wall. As she pointed 
with her right hand her left heel moved a thought backwards, 
and the result was perfection. I went up and looked at the 
wreath and found that she had been awarded it at some Berlin 



dance festival. “ That is why we have come," said Constantine, 
“ she won the second prize at the great Folk-Dance festival. It 
is a great honour.” 

My husband said, " Please tell her we think her dress most 
beautiful. Is it a Croatian peasant dress ? ’’ “ Ach, no I " said 
Constantine. “ But no, my God, I am wrong, it is." He went 
down on his knees and looked at the skirt. It was of white linen 
embroidered with red and white flowers of a very pure design. 
" Yes,” he said, " it is a Croatian peasant dress, but she has 
adapted it to Western ideas. She has made it much lighter. 
Well, we shall see. Here comes the accompanist.” We watched 
the girl’s feet move like nothing substantial, like the marks on 
eddying water. Her skirts flowed round her in rhythms counter 
to the rhythms of her feet, and smiling she held out her hands 
to invisible partners to share in this dear honourable drunken- 
ness. Out of the air she conjured them till they were nearly 
visible, frank and hearty fellows that could match her joke with 
joke, till shyness came and made all more delicate, and for a 
second all laughter vanished and she inscribed on the air her 
potentiality for romance. Her head and bosom hung back- 
wards from the stem of her waist like a flower blown backwards, 
but for fear that this wind blow too strongly, she called back 
the defence of laughter, and romped again. 

When she stopped we all applauded ; but as soon as she 
went away to change her dress Constantine said to me, " It is 
terrible, is it not ? ” " Yes, it is very shocking,” I said, " but I 
thought it must be so from her dress.” My husband said, “ I do 
not know what you mean. It seems to me we have been watch- 
ing a very accomplished dance of little or no imaginative dis- 
tinction, but I cannot understand why anybody should consider 
it as shocking.” " No, of course you cannot understand, but 
your wife can, because she has been in Serbia and Macedonia, 
and she knows how it is natural for a Slav woman to dance. 
She knows that with us a woman must not dance like this. It 
does not go with any of our ideas. A woman must not spring 
about like a man to show how strong she is and she must not 
laugh like a man to show how happy she is. She has something 
else to do. She must go round ■wearing heavy clothes, not light 
at all, but heavy, hea-vy clothes, so that she is stiff like an ikon, 
and her face must mean one thing like the face of an ikon, and 
when she dances she must move without seeming to move, as if 



she were an ikon held up before the people. It is something 
you cannot understand, Wt for us it is right. Many things in 
our culture accord with it.*’ " Is this something that is taken 
for granted and spoken about, or have you just thought of it ? ” 
asked my husband. " I have just thought of putting it like this, ” 
said Constantine, laughing, “ but that is nothing against it, for 
I am a demoniac man like Goethe, and my thoughts represent 
the self-consciousness of nature. But indeed your wife wUl tell 
you it is so.” " Yes,” I said, “ he is right. They shuffle round 
as if they were dead, but somehow it looks right." 

When the dancer came back she was committing a worse 
offence against Slav convention. It happens that Lika, which 
is a district of Dalmatia, in the Karst, that is to say on the bare 
limestone mountains, breeds a kind of debonair Highlander, 
rather hard to believe in, so like is he to the kind of figure that a 
Byron-struck young lady of the early nineteenth century drew in 
her album. The girl’s dress was a principal-boy version of this, 
a tight bodice and kilt of oatmeal linen, with a multicoloured 
sporran, and she wore the typical male Lika head-dress, a cap 
with an orange crown, a black rim, and a black lock of fringe 
falling over the ear and nape of the neck on the right side. It 
suited her miraculously, and her legs were the shape of perfec- 
tion. But the rhythm of her dance was very quick and spring- 
ing ; it was in fact a boy’s dance, and she danced it as a girl 
wanting to emphasise that she was a girl by performing a 
characteristically male process. She ended standing on the tips 
of her toes, with her left hand on her hip and her right forefinger 
touching her chin, her eyebrows raised in coyness ; there was 
never anything less androgynous. 

But the attempt to juggle with the two aspects of human 
sexuality was not the reason why this dance was distressing in 
its confusion. It was a distress not new to me — I have felt it 
often in America. I have at times felt suddenly sickened when 
a coloured dancer I have been watching has used a step or gest- 
ure that belongs to ” white ” dancing ; even if the instant 
before they had been wriggling in an imitation sexual ecstasy 
and passed into a dull undulation of the Loie Fuller sort or the 
chaste muscular bound of a ballet movement, the second seemed 
more indecent than the first, and I have often experienced the 
same shock when I have seen white dancers borrow the idiom 
of coloured dancers. There is nothing unpleasant in the gesture 



known as “ cherry-picking ”, provided it is a negro or negress 
who performs it ; the dancer stands with feet apart and knees 
bent, and stretches the arms upwards while the Angers pull an 
invisible abundance out of the high air. But it is gross and 
revolting, a reversion to animalism, when it is performed by a 
white person. That same feeling of inappropriateness amount- 
ing to cultural perversion afflicted me slightly when I saw this 
girl’s first dance, more severely when I saw her second, and to a 
painful degree in the third, which she did to show us that she 
could do more than mere folk-dances. It was that cabaret 
chestnut, the dance of the clockwork doll, which is an imagina- 
tive clichd of the stalest sort, never again to be more amusing 
than the riddle ” When is a door not a door ? ” and this was the 
most excruciating rendering of it that I have ever seen. This 
Croat girl was so noble a creature that when she did a silly thing 
she looked far sillier than the silly do. At the end of her dance 
she ran across the shining floor and stood with her bare arm 
resting on the golden wreath, her reflection broken loveliness at 
her feet. “ Some day I will make them give me the first prize,” 
she laughed. “ The poor little one," said Constantine, '' she 
should be like an ikon, your wife will tell you.” 

Zagreb VI 

We went up the hill and looked at the archaic statues on the 
porch of St. Mark's Church, which is a battered old spiritual 
keep that has been built and rebuilt again and again since the 
thirteenth century. " This old square is the heart of the town,” 
said Constantine. ” Zagreb is the heart of Croatia, and St. 
Mark’s Square is the heart of Zagreb, and I think that only once 
did it fall, and then to the Tartars, to whom all fell. But now 
they have renamed it the square of Stefan Raditch, after the 
great leader of the Croat Peasant Party, who was shot in the 
Belgrade Parliament in 1928. Here in Croatia they say we 
Serbs did it, they say our King Alexander plotted it,” said 
Constantine, his voice rising to a wail, " but it is not so. He was 
shot by a mad Montenegrin deputy whom he had accused of 
corruption. The Montenegrins are a Homeric people, they do 
not understand modern life ; they think that if a man attacks 
your honour you kill him, and it is well. But the Croats do not 


know that, for they will never travel ; they have no idea of going 
any further than Dalmatia. And why would King Alexander 
want to kill Raditch ? He knew very well that if Raditch were 
killed the Croats would go mad and would make with the Italians 
and the Hungarians to kill him also. And so they did. And 
that is a thing to remember when the King is blamed for sus- 
pending the constitution. Always King Alexander knew that 
he would be killed. It is proof of the lack of imagination of all 
you English Liberals that you forget that a man’s policy is a 
little different when he knows he is going to be killed.” 

Down in the town we sat and drank chocolate in a caf^, till 
Constantine said, “ Come you must go. You must not keep 
Valetta waiting.” Since he was staying in the same hotel as we 
were, and he looked tired, I said, “ Come back with us.” But 
he would not. “ I will come later,” he said, and I am sure he 
was afraid of meeting Valetta in the lounge and having to admit 
that Valetta wanted to sec us but not him. The Serb, though he 
seems tough and insensitive, is sometimes childishly hurt by 
Croat coldness. Some French friends of mine who once attended 
an International Congress of some sort at Zagreb were in the 
company of a Serb, a middle-aged diplomat, when somebody 
came into the room with the news that the Croat hospitality 
committee was not going to ask the Serb delegates to the ban- 
quet which was going to terminate the proceedings. The Serb 
diplomat burst into tears. This story is the sadder because every 
Croat, who thinks of the Serb as the gendarme who tortures 
him, would disbelieve it. 

When we got to our hotel we found Valetta waiting for us, 
and we took him up to our room and drank plum brandy, pleased 
to see him again though we had seen him so recently. He stood 
by the window, pulled the curtains apart and grimaced at the 
snow that fell aslant between us and the electric standards. 
“ What a terrible Easter wc have given you 1 ” he laughed, and 
raised his glass to his lips, smiling on us with the radiance that 
is usually the gift of traitors, but means nothing in him but 
kindness and good faith. He went on to apologise for the 
violence with which he had spoken at lunch-time. “ I could not 
help it,” he said. “ I know that Constantine is a wonderful man, 
but he is all for Belgrade, and you will understand how we are 
bound to feel about that. I am so afraid that as you are just 
passing through the country, you will not see what we Croats 



have to suffer. Of course everything is better since 1931, when 
the King gave us back some sort of constitution ; and since the 
King died it has improved still further. But it is still terrible. 

“ You cannot think,” he said, as we all gathered round the 
fire with our glasses on our knees, “ what the Censorship here is 
like. Do you know that that little pamphlet about the Dictator- 
ship of the Proletariat, which was a kind of three-cornered debate 
between Stalin and Shaw and Wells, has been suppressed. 
Think of the absurdity of it ! Of course that hardly matters, for 
it is imported and it could not be called an epoch-making work, 
but what does matter is that our own great people are persecuted. 
You have heard of X. Y. ? He is a dramatist, and he is really 
by far the greatest living writer we have. But he is a Com- 
munist. Well, never can we see his plays at our theatre. They 
simply will not let them be performed. And it matters not only 
for us, but for him, because he is miserably poor. And he is not 
allowed to make nr.oney any way, for when some people arranged 
for him to give a lecture here in one of our big halls and had sold 
all the tickets, the police prevented it twenty-four hours before, 
on the ground that if there were a riot in the hall they could not 
undertake to keep order. Now, that is sheer nonsense. We 
Croats might riot about all sorts of things, but we would not riot 
because X. Y. was giving a lecture. And really, I am not ex- 
aggerating, all this means that the great X. Y. is starving.” 

” But wait a minute,” said my husband. “ Is it only the 
Yugoslavian Government that did not want X. Y. to speak ? 
Is there not a chance that the Croat Clerical Party was also 
rather anxious that he shouldn’t ? ” Valetta looked uncomfort- 
able. “ Yes, it is so,” he said. " They would be against any 
Communist, wouldn't they?" pressed my husband. “And 
they would be in favour of a strict censorship, wouldn’t they ? ” 

“ Yes,” said Valetta. “ Then when you fight for free speech 
and a free press, you Croats are not only fighting the Serbs, 
you are also fighting your own Clerical Party ? ” “ That is 

so,” agreed Valetta ; and he added sadly, “ Our Clerical Party 
is very violent.” There he was guilty of an understatement. 
The Croatian Clerical Party is not a force that can easily be 
regarded as proceeding from God. It is a party with a long 
pedigree of mischief-makers, for it descends from the nineteenth- 
century Party of the Right, which was led by Anton Starchevitch, 
and its successor, the Party of Pure Right, which was led by 


Dr. Josef Frank. Both these parties were violently bigoted in 
their pietism, and professed the most vehement antagonism to 
the Jews (which implied antagonism to Liberalism) and to the 
Orthodox Church (which, as all Serbs are Orthodox, implied 
antagonism to the Serbs). 

There is to be noted, as evidence against the Austro- 
Hungarian Empire, the neurotic quality of its rebels. It is as 
if the population were so drugged and depleted that they never 
raised their voice unless they were stung by some inner exaspera- 
tion. It has been mentioned that Kossuth, the Magyar patriot 
and scourge of the Slavs, was himself pure Slovak and had no 
Magyar blood in his veins. Even so, Starchevitch, who loathed 
the Serbs, was himself, as Constantine had told us beside his 
grave, born of a Serb mother, and Dr. Frank, whose anti- 
Semitism was frenzied, was a Jew. Such Slav patriots as these 
were meat and drink to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who 
hated her Slav subjects. They made it easy for her to rule 
according to that counsel of Hell, Divide et Impera. The 
famous Ban Khuen-Hedervary, whose rule of Croatia was 
infamously cruel, made a point of granting the Serb minority 
in Croatia special privileges, so that the Croats would be 
jealous of them, and there was thus no danger of Serbs and 
Croats joining together in revolt against Hungarian rule. 

The state of mind this produced in the populace can be read 
in one of the numerous trials that disgraced the Austro- 
Hungarian Empire so far as Croatia was concerned from the 
beginning of the twentieth century till the war. This was the 
famous “ Agram trial ” (Ag^am was the Austrian name for 
Zagreb) which arraigned fifty-three Serbs of Croatia for con- 
spiracy with the free Serbs of Serbia against the Austro- 
Hungarian Empire. The charge was flagrant nonsense, cooked 
up by the Ban, Baron Rauch, a stupid brute, and Count 
Achrenthal, the Austrian Foreign Minister, who belonged to 
the company of Judas and Fouche ; but for evidence they never 
had to turn to Austrians or Magyars. Nearly all the two hundred 
and seventy witnesses brought by the prosecution, who were 
nearly all flagrantly perjured, W’ere Croats. They were all 
willing to swear away the lives of their fellow Slavs to the 
authorities they hated ; yet there is no difference between 
Croats and Serbs except their religion. 

The Croat Clerical Party, therefore, has always worked with 



a motive power of anti-Serb hatred, which naturally created 
its material. The Serbs retorted with as bad as they got, and 
the Orthodox Church showed no example of tolerance to the 
Roman Catholics. The greatest of nineteenth-century Slav 
patriots of the pacific sort. Bishop Strossmayer, once announced 
his intention of visiting Serbia, and the Serbian Government 
had to make the shameful confession that it could not guarantee 
his personal safety. But the greatest stimulus to anti-Serb 
feeling has lain outside Croatia, in the Roman Catholic Church 
itself. During the last sixty yearn or so the Vatican has become 
more and more Ultramontane, more and more predominantly 
Italian in personnel ; and since the war of 1914 it has become 
more and more terrified of Communism. Can the Roman 
Catholic Church really be expected to like Yugoslavia ? — to 
like a state in which Croats, who used to be safely amalgamated 
with Catholic Austrians and Hungarians, are outnumbered by 
Orthodox Serbs, who are suspected of having no real feeling 
of enmity towards Bolshevist Russia ? 

There are two indications, one small and one massive, of 
the Roman Catholic attitude to Yugoslavia. In all Slav 
countries there have been for many years gymnastic societies 
for young Slavs, called “ Sokols ” or " The Hawks ”, after an 
original made in Czechoslovakia, where boys and girls are 
given physical training and instructed in their nationalist 
tradition and the duties of a patriot. These are, indeed, the 
models from which the Italian Fascist! copied the Balilla and 
Avanguardisti. After the war, the Roman Catholic Church 
started rival societies called “ The Eagles ” in both Croatia 
and Slovenia. It is extremely difHcult to see what motive there 
can have been behind this move except to weaken the state 
loyalty of the Roman Catholic Yugoslavs ; the Church could 
not possibly fear that the Sokols would interfere with the 
religious views of their members, for the Czech and Croatian 
Sokols had always been predominantly Catholic. The more 
important indication of the pro-Italian and anti-Slav attitude 
of the Roman Catholic Church is her callousness towards the 
unhappy Slovenes who were incorporated in Italy under the 
Peace Treaty. These six hundred thousand people are the 
worst treated minority in Europe except the German Tyrolese. 

” Have bugs a nationality when they infest a dwelling ? That is 
the historical and moral position of the Slovenes living within 


our borders,” once said the Popolo iP Italia. The 1929 Con- 
cordat which Pope Pius XI signed with Mussolini did not 
adequately protect the religious rights of the Slav minority, 
and the Slovenes no longer enjoy the right, which they prized 
highly, of using the Slovene liturgy in the churches. The Slav 
so loves his language that this was a gesture of hostility to the 
Slav soul. 

It is, therefore, not sensible to trust the Roman Catholic 
Croat to like and understand the Orthodox Serb, or even to 
discourage the artificial hatred that has been worked up between 
them in the past. “ Do you not think, Valetta,” said my 
husband, ” that the Belgrade Government knows this, and there- 
fore bargains with the Church, giving it assistance in its anti- 
Communist campaign on condition that it keeps the anti-Serb 
and Croatian Separatist Movement within bounds ? ” Valetta 
hesitated. " It may be so,” he said, his long fingers fiddling 
with the fringe of a cushion. “ And there is another thing,” 
said my husband ; ” there is the present Concordat.” * He 
paused. In 1937 all the Serbian parts of Yugoslavia were up 
in arms because the Government had signed a Concordat with 
Pope Pius which gave the Roman Catholic Church immense 
advantages over the Orthodox Church : in any town where 
the Roman Catholics were in an absolute majority over the 
Serbs all the schools w'ithout exception were to be Roman 
Catholic ; the child of a Roman Catholic mother and Orthodox 
father was to be brought up as a Roman Catholic even if the 
mother were received into the husband’s Church ; it was to 
be far easier for Roman Catholic soldiers to practise their 
religion than for the Orthodox soldiers, and so on. The terms 
were so grossly favourable to the Roman Catholics that the 
Government made it very difficult for the Serb public or for 
foreigners to obtain the text of the Concordat. " Yes,” sighed 
Valetta, " this wretched Concordat. We none of us want it 
here, in Croatia, you know.” 

“ Yes, I do not think you Croats want it,” said my husband, 
" but your Church does. And don’t you feel that the Church 
would never have been able to extort such terms from the 
Belgrade Government if it had not been able to trade some 

■ This Concordat was abandoned in 1938 because of the £eice opposition 
of the Serbs and the lukewarm attitude of the Croats. It was entirely the 
project of the Vatican. 



favours in return ? I suspect very strongly that it has said to 
the Belgrade Government, ‘ If you give us these concessions 
we will see to it that the Croatian Peasant Party never seriously 
menaces the stability of the Yugoslavian state.' ” Valetta 
rocked himself uneasily, " Oh, surely not, surely not,” he 
murmured. “ But for what other reason can the Belgrade 
Government have granted this preposterous Concordat ? ” 
pressed rny husband. " I cannot imagine,” said Valetta. 
“ Oh, I suppose you are right I ” He rose and went to the 
window and drew back the curtains, and looked again on the 
bright snow that drove out of the darkness through the rays 
of the street lamps. 

" Is it not the tragedy of your situation here,” suggested 
my husband, “ that you Croats are for the first time discovering 
that your religion and your race run counter to one another, 
and that you are able to evade that discovery by putting the 
blame on the constitution of Yugoslavia ? The Croats, like all 
Slavs, are a democratic and speculative people. You lived for 
long under the Hapsburgs, whom you could blame for every 
interference with individual liberty. Since the great pro-Croat 
Strossmayer was a Bishop you could even think of the Roman 
Catholic Church as the arch-opponent of the Hapsburgs, and 
therefore the protector of liberty. Now the Hapsburgs are swept 
away you should see the Roman Catholic Church as it is : not 
at all democratic, not at all in favour of speculative thought ; 
far more alarmed by the vaguest threat of social revolution than 
by any actual oppression, provided it is of monarchial or 
totalitarian origin, and wholly unsympathetic with any need 
for free expression but its own. You should proceed to the 
difficult task of deciding whether you can reconcile yourself 
to this bias of the Church for the sake of the spiritual benefits 
it confers upon you. But you are postponing this task by letting 
the Church throw the blame for all its suppressions of free 
speech and free press on Belgp-ade.” 

" It is possible that you are right,” said Valetta, coming 
back and taking his seat by the fire. “ Nothing is ever clear- 
cut here." “ Do you never get down to a discussion of first 
principles ? ” asked my husband. " This business of social 
revolution, how is it regarded by the Croat politicians such as 
Matchek of the Croat Peasant Party ? ” " We never speak of 
such things, it is too soon,” said Valetta. " But if they want 

VOL.1 H 


to become a separate autonomous canton, surely they must 
have some idea of the kind of society they want to found ? ” 
“ No,” answered Valetta, " it is felt that it would be premature 
to discuss such things. Oh, I know it is wrong and naive and 
foolish, but that is how our people feel.” 

That is how they had always felt, the Croat leaders. There 
lay on the table a wad of papers which was the result of my 
efforts, practised over some weeks, to discover what opinions 
had been held by the greatest of Croat leaders, the murdered 
Stefan Raditch. Those efforts had been fruitless, except so 
far as they provided a proof of the essential unity of the Slavs. 
For Raditch was the spit and image of Tolstoy. He talked 
nonsense as often as not, but nobody minded ; they all listened 
and felt exalted. It was his habit to speak in parables that were 
apt to be childish and obscure, and his speeches sometimes 
lasted for half a day and usually contained matter that was 
entirely contrary to human experiences ; but his audiences 
adored him as a sage and a saint, and would have died for him. 
What was peculiarly Croat in him was his appeal to the peasants 
as a representative of the country as against the town. Thb was 
his own invention. Before the war it was possible to meet all 
the other Croat politicians by frequenting the Zagreb caf6s 
and restaurants, but both Raditch and his brother Anton, who 
was almost as famous, made it a strict rule never to enter a 
caK or a restaurant. This was to mark themselves off from the 
bourgeoisie as specifically peasant. This would not have been 
impressive in any other part of Yugoslavia than Croatia, where 
alone is there a bourgeoisie which has existed long enough to 
cut itself off from the peasantry. It would have evoked dislike 
and impatience in Serbia or Bosnia or Macedonia, where the 
poorest peasant is accustomed to sit in caf^s. 

In the minds of his followers Raditch must have sown 
confusion and little else. He spoke always as if he had a plan 
by which the Croat peasant was instantly to become prosperous, 
whereas there is no man in the world, not even Stalin, who 
would claim to be able to correct in our own time the insane 
dispensation which pays the food-producer worst of all workers. 
The only practical step he ever proposed was the abolition of a 
centralised Yugoslavian Government and the establishment of a 
Federalism which would have left the economic position of the 
Croat peasant exactly where it was. The rest was a mass of 



violent inconsistencies. Probably nobody but St. Augustine 
has contradicted himself so often or so violently. 

He was pro-Hapsburg ; at the outbreak of the war he made 
a superb speech calling on the Croats to defend their Emperor, 
and his sentiments did not really change after the peace. But 
he constantly preached that the Croats should form a republic 
within the kingdom of Yugoslavia, on the grounds that the pro- 
letariat was better off in a republic than in a monarchy. Not 
only was he simultaneously pro-Hapsburg and republican, he 
had friendly correspondence with Lenin and made a triumphal 
progress through Russia. Though he expressed sympathy 
with Bolshevist ideas he had stern race theories, which made 
him despise many of the inhabitants of the southern parts of 
Yugoslavia and reproach the Serbs bitterly for admitting to 
Government posts such people as Vlachs, an ancient and quite 
respectable shepherd tribe of the Balkans. It is said, however, 
that he made the visit to Russia not from any ideological motive 
but because like all Slavs he loved to travel, and though he had 
lived in Vienna and Berlin and Paris (where he had taken 
university degrees, for no more than Tolstoy was he a piece of 
peasantry straight out of the oven) and had visited London and 
Rome, he had never been in Moscow. 

Whatever the reason may have been the visit did not help him 
to give a definition to the Croat mind, particularly as shortly after- 
wards he became a close friend of King Alexander of Yugo- 
slavia, whom he alternately reproached for his interference with 
Parliamentarianism and urged to establish a military dictator- 
ship. Meanwhile he robbed the Croats of any right to complain 
that the Serbs refused to let them take any part in the govern- 
ment by ordering the Croat deputies to abstain from taking 
their seats in the Belgrade Parliament, when the wiser course 
would have been to leave them as an obstructionist and bargain- 
ing body. Some idea of Raditch can be formed by an effort to 
imagine an Irish politician with Parnell’s personal magnetism, 
who was at one and the same time an agrarian reformer, a 
Stuart legitimist, a republican, a Communist sympathiser, an 
advocate of the Aryan race theory, and a close friend of the 
King of England, to whom he recommended Liberalism and 
Fascism as he felt like it, and who withdrew the Irish members 
from St. Stephen’s while himself constantly visiting London. 
It is no wonder that his party, even under his successor Matchek, 



has formed only the vaguest programmes. 

“ Nothing," said Valetta, " has any form here. Movements 
that seem obvious to me when I am in Paris or London become 
completely inconceivable when I am here in Zagreb. Here 
nothing matters except the Croat-Serb situation. And that, I 
own, never seems to get any further." " But this is something 
very serious," said my husband, “ for a movement might rush 
down on you here, say from Germany, and sweep away the 
Croat-Serb situation and every other opportunity for debate.” 
" You are perfectly right,” said Valetta. “ I know it, I know 
it very well. But I do not think anything can be done.” And 
of course nothing can be done. A great empire cannot bring 
freedom by its own decay to those corners in it where a subject 
people are prevented from discussing the fundamentals of life. 
The people feel like children turned adrift to fend for themselves 
when the imperial routine breaks down ; and they wander to 
and fro, given up to instinctive fears and antagonisms and exalta- 
tion until reason dares to take control. I had come to Yugoslavia 
to see what history meant in flesh and blood. I learned now 
that it might follow, because an empire passed, that a world full 
of strong men and women and rich food and heady wine might 
nevertheless seem like a shadow-show ; that a man of every 
excellence might sit by a fire warming his hands in the vain hope 
of casting out a chill that lived not in the flesh. Valetta is a 
clean-cut person ; he is for gentleness and kindness and fastidi- 
ousness against clod-hopping and cruelty and stupidity, and he 
would make that choice in war as well as peace, for his nature is 
not timid. But he must have something defined that it is possible 
to be gentle and kind and fastidious about. Here, how'ever, 
there is none, and therefore Valetta seems a little ghostly as he 
sits by our hearth ; and I wonder if Zagreb is not a city without 
substance, no more solid than the snowflakes I shall see next 
time Valetta strolls to the window and pulls the curtain, 
driving down from the darkness into the light of the street 
lamps. This is what the consequences of Austrian rule mean 
to individual Croats. 

Zagreb VII 

Politics, always politics. In the middle of the night, when 
there is a rap on our bedroom door, it is politics. " It may be 



a. telegram,” said my husband, springing up and fumbling for 
the light. But it was Constantine. ” I am afraid I am late, I 
am very late. I have been talking in the cafes with these Croats 
about the political situation of Yugoslavia ; someone must tell 
them, for they are quite impossible. But I must tell you that I 
will be leaving to-morrow for Belgrade, very early, earlier than 
you will go to Sushak, for they have telephoned to me and say 
that I must go back, they need me, for there is no one who 
works so well as me. I would have left you a note to tell you 
that, but there was something I must explain to you. I have 
spoken not such good things of Raditch who was killed and of 
Matchek who is alive — you had better put on your dressing- 
gown for I will be some time explaining this to you — but I want 
to make you understand that though they are not at all clever 
men and cannot understand that there must be a Yugoslavia, 
they are chonest. They would neither of them take money 
from the Italians and Hungarians. They and their followers 
would spit on such men as go to be trained in terrorism at the 
camps in Italy and Hungary. These were quite other men, let 
me tell you. . . ." 

Nevertheless we had woken as early as it was light, and my 
husband said to me, ” We have never seen Mestrovitch’s statue 
of the great Croat patriot. Bishop Strossmayer ; it is in the 
public garden just outside this hotel. Let us go and look at it 
now.” So we dressed in the dawn, said " Excuse me ” to the 
charwomen who were scrubbing the hall, and found the Bishop 
among the dark bushes and drab laurels of the unilluminated 
morning. But his beauty, even under the handling of one whose 
preference for rude strength must have been disconcerted by its 
delicacy, was a light by itself. Mestrovitch had given up his 
own individuality and simply reproduced the Bishop's beauty, 
veiling it with a sense of power, and setting horns in the thick 
wavy hair, after the manner of Michael Angelo’s Moses. I 
would like to know if Mestrovitch ever saw his model : he 
probably did, for Strossmayer lived until he was ninety in the 
year 1905. 

This dazzling creature had then completed lifty-six years of 
continuous heroic agitation for the liberation of the Croats and as 
the fearless denunciator of Austro-Hungarian tyranny. Because 
of his brilliant performances as a preacher and a scholar he was 
at thirty-four made the Bishop of Djakovo, a see which included 


a vast stretch of the Slav-inhabited territoiy of the Empire ; and 
he immediately declared himself as a passionate pro-Croat. It 
is an indication of the wrongs suffered by the Croats that the 
revenues of this bishopric were enormous, though the poverty 
and ignorance of the peasants were so extreme that they shocked 
and actually frightened travellers. He amazed everyone by 
spending these enormous revenues on the Croats. While Hun- 
gary was trying to Magyarise the Croats by forbidding them to 
use their own language, and as far as possible deprived them of 
all but the most elementary education, he financed a number 
of secondary schools and seminaries for clerics, where the in- 
structions were given in Serbo-Croat ; he endowed many South 
Slav literary men and philologists, both Croats and Serbs, and, 
what was most important, he insisted on the rights of the Croats 
and the Slovenes to use the Slav liturgy instead of the Latin. 
This last was their ancient privilege, for which they had bar- 
gained with Rome at the time of their conversion by Cyril and 
Methodius in the ninth century, when they were a free people. 
He founded the University of Zagreb, which was necessary not 
only for educational reasons but to give the Croats a proper 
social status ; for in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as in Ger- 
many and in the United States, graduation at a university has 
a class value ; it is the mental equivalent of a white collar. 
Since the Croats had a university they could not be despised as 
peasants. He was able to raise pro-Slav feeling in the rest of 
Europe, for he was the friend of many distinguished French- 
men, and he was the admired correspondent of Lord Acton and 
Mr. Gladstone. 

In all this lifelong struggle he had the support of no 
authority. He stood alone. Though Pope Leo XIII liked and 
admired him, the Ultramontane Party, which wanted to dye 
the Church in the Italian colours, loathed him because he was 
one of the three dissentients who voted against the Doctrine of 
Papal Infallibility. On this matter he was of the same mind 
as Lord Acton, but was at odds with his nearer Catholic neigh- 
bours. These hated him because he defended the right of the 
Slavs to have their liturgy said in their own tongue. They also 
found him lamentably deficient in bigotry. When he sent a tele- 
gram of brotherly greetings to the head of the Orthodox Church 
in Russia on the occasion of the millenary of the Slav apostle 
Methodius, his fellow-Catholics, particularly the Hungarians, 



raged against this as an insult to the Holy See. The sense of 
being part of a universal brotherhood, of being sure of finding 
a family welcome in the furthest land, is one of the sweetest 
benefits o£fered by the Roman Catholic Church to its members. 
He had none of this enjoyment. He had only to leave his 
diocese to meet coldness and insolence from those who should 
have been his brothers. 

The Atistro-Hungarian Empire could not persecute Stross- 
mayer to his danger. The Croats loved him too well, and it was 
not safe to have a belt of disaffected Slavs on the border of 
Serbia, the free Slav state. But it nagged at him incessantly. 
When he went to open the Slav Academy in Zagreb the streets 
were thronged with cheering crowds, but the Government 
forbade all decorations and illuminations. It took him fifteen 
years to force on Vienna the University of Zagreb ; the statutes 
were not sanctioned till five years after the necessary funds 
had been collected. During the negotiations which settled the 
terms on which Croatia was to submit to Hungary, after 
Hungary had been given a new status by Elizabeth’s invention 
of the Dual Monarchy, Strossmayer was exiled to France. At 
the height of the trouble over his telegram to the Orthodox 
Church about Methodius, he was summoned to Sclavonia, a 
district of Croatia, where the Emperor Franz Josef was 
attending manoeuvres ; and Franz Josef took the opportunity 
to insult him publicly, though he was then seventy years of 
age. This was a bitter blow to him, for he loved Austria, and 
indeed was himself of Austrian stock, and he wished to preserve 
the Austro-Hungarian Empire by making the Croats loyal 
and contented instead of rebels who had the right on their 
side. Again and again he warned the Emperor of the exact 
point at which his power was going to disintegrate ; of Sarajevo. 
He told him that if the Austrians and Hungarians misgoverned 
Bosnia they would increase the mass of Slav discontent within 
the Empire to a weight that no administration could support 
and the Hapsburg power must fall. 

But what is marvellous about this career is not only its 
heroism but its gaiety. Strossmayer was a child of light, exempt 
from darkness and terror. In person he resembled the slim, 
long-limbed and curled Romeo in Delacroix’ Romeo and Juliet, 
and the Juliet he embraced was all grace. The accounts given 
by European celebrities of the visits they had to him read 


richly. The foreigner arrived after a night journey at a small 
station, far on the thither side of civilisation, and was received 
by a young priest followed by a servant described as “ a pandour 
with long moustachios dressed in the uniform of a hussar ”, 
who put him into a victoria drawn by four dappled greys of the 
Lipizaner strain which is still to be seen in the Spanish Riding 
School at Vienna. Twenty-two miles they did in two hours 
and a half, and at the end, near a small market town, reached 
a true palace. It was nineteenth-century made, aiid that was 
unfortunate, particularly in these parts. There is a theory that 
the decay of taste is somehow linked with the growth of demo- 
cracy, but it is completely disproved by the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire which in its last eighty years grew in fervour for 
absolutism and for Messrs. Maple of Tottenham Court Road. 
But there was much here worthy of any palace. There was a 
magnificent avenue of Italian poplars, planted by the Bishop 
in his young days ; there was a superb park, landscaped by 
the Bishop himself ; there were greenhouses and winter gardens, 
the like of which the eastward traveller would not see again 
until he had passed through Serbia and Bulgaria and Roumania 
and had found his way to the large estates in Russia. 

The guest breakfasted by an open window admitting the 
perfume of an adjacent acacia grove, on prodigious butter 
and cream from the home farm, on Viennese coffee and 
rolls made of flour sent from Budapest. Later he was taken 
to worship in the Cathedral w'hich the Bishop had built, 
where peasants proudly wearing Slav costumes were hearing 
the Slav liturgy. Then there was the return to the palace, 
and a view of the picture gallery, hung with works of art which 
Strossmayer had collected in preparation of the museum at 
Zagreb. It is an endearing touch that he confessed he was 
extremely glad of the Imperial opposition which had delayed 
the foundation of this museum, so that he had an excuse 
for keeping these pictures in his own home. After an excellent 
midday dinner the Bishop exhibited his collection of gold and 
silver crucifixes and chalices of Slav workmanship, dating from 
the tenth to the fourteenth century, pointing out the high level 
of civilisation which they betokened. Then the Bishop would 
take the visitor round his home farm, to see the Lipizaner 
horses he bred very profitably for the market, the Swiss cattle 
he had imported to improve the local stock, and the model 



dairy which was used for instructional purposes, and he would 
walk with him in his deer park, at one corner of which he had 
saved from the axes of the woodcutters a tract of primeval 
Balkan forest, within a palisade erected to keep out the wolves 
which still ravaged that part of the world. Before supper the 
visitor took a little rest. The Bishop sent up to him a few reviews 
and newspapers : The Times, La Revue des Deux Mondes, the 
Journal des Mconomistes, La Nuova Antologia and so on. 

After supper, at which the food and drink were again 
delicious, there were hours of conversation, exquisite in manner, 
stirring in matter. Strossmayer spoke perfect German, Italian, 
Czech, Russian and Serbian, and a peculiarly musical French 
which bewitched the ears of Frenchmen ; but it was in Latin 
that he was most articulate. It was his favourite medium of 
expression, and all those who heard him use it, even when they 
were such scholars as the Vatican Council, were amazed by the 
loveliness he extracted from that not so very sensuous language. 
About his conversation there seems to have been the clear welling 
beauty of the first Latin hymns. The Christians and he alike 
were possessed by an ardour which was the very quality needed 
to transcend the peculiar limitations of that tongue. It was an 
ardour which, in the case of Strossmayer, led to a glorious un- 
failing charity towards events. He spoke of his beloved Croatsi 
of the victories of their cause, of his friendships with great men, 
as a lark might sing in mid-air ; but of his struggles with Rome 
and the Hapsburgs he spoke with equal joy, as a triumphant 
athlete might recall his most famous contests. His visitors, who 
had travelled far to reassure him in his precarious position, 
went home in a |tate of reassurance such as they had never 
known before. 

This is not a character in life as we know it ; it belongs tD 
the world that hangs before us just so long as the notes of a 
Mozart aria linger in the ear. According to our dingy habit, 
which is necessary enough, considering our human condition, 
we regard him with suspicion, we look for the snake beneath the 
flower. All of us know what it is to be moonstruck by charmers 
and to misinterpret their charm as a promise that now, at last, 
in this enchanting company, life can be lived without precaution, 
in the laughing exchange of generosities ; and all of us have 
found later that that charm made no promise and meant nothing, 
absolutely nothing, except perhaps that their mothers’ glands 


worked very well before they were bom. Actually such men 
often cannot understand generosity at all, since the eupeptic 
quality which is the cause of their charm enables them to live 
happily without feeling the need for sweetening life by amiable 
conduct. They often refrain from contemptuous comment on 
such folly because they have some use for the gifts of the 
generous, but even then they usually cannot contain their scorn 
at what seems a crazy looseness, an idiot interference with the 
efficient mechanism of self-interest. Hence the biographies of 
charmers are often punctuated by treachery and brutality of a 
most painful kind. So we wait for the dark passages in Stross- 
mayer’s story. But they do not come. 

It appears that he turned on the spiritual world the same 
joyous sensuality with which he chose chalices, Italian pictures, 
horses, cattle, coffee and flowers. He rejected brutality as if it 
were a spavined horse, treachery as if it had been chicory in the 
coffee. His epicureanism did not fail under its last and supreme 
obligation, so much more difficult than the harshest vow of 
abstinence taken by ascetics : he preferred love to hate, and 
made sacrifices for that preference. The sole companions left 
to him were the Croats ; for them he had forsaken all others. 
But he never hesitated to oppose the Croat leaders over certain 
errors tending to malice and persecution, which sprung up here 
as they are bound to do in every movement of liberation. 
Though he risked everything to free the Croats from the 
dominance of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he would not 
suffer any attempt to raise hatred among the Slavs against the 
Austrians or the Hungarian peoples ; nor did he ever let ill be 
spoken of the Emperor Franz Josef. Nor, thoygh he was a most 
fervent propagandist for the Roman Catholic faith, would he 
have any hand in the movement to persecute the Orthodox 
Church which set the Croat against the Serb. He set himself 
another problem of enormous delicacy in his opposition to 
anti-Semitism, which was here an inevitable growth since the 
feudal system kept the peasants bound to the land and thereby 
gave the Jews a virtual monopoly of trade and the professions. 
For thirty-six years, smiling, he dared deny his friends all 
titbits to feed the beast in their bosoms, and lived in peril of 
making them his enemies, though he loved friendship a^ve all 
things. Out of the political confusion of Croatia which makes 
for the endless embitterment and impoverishment I have 



described, this creature had derived sweetness and well-being. 
“ That is one of the most beautiful lives recorded in modem 
history,” sud my husband. We left the lovely statue smiling 
under the heavy rain. 

On the railway station we fotmd the good Gregorievitch 
and Valetta waiting to say good-bye to us. They stood side by 
side on the platform, these two enemies, the early morning rain 
dripping on their turned-up coat collars. Valetta laughed and 
wriggled as the drops of water trickled down his neck, but 
Gregorievitch merely bowed beneath the torrents. “ Nothing 
is as it used to be,” he said stoically ; " even the seasons are 
changed.” We did not wonder that he correlated his political 
disappointments with the weather. The previous day we had 
seen him link them with phenomena fated, it might have been 
imagined, to be connected with absolutely nothing, to be them- 
selves alone. 

We had gone, Constantine and my husband and myself, to 
take tea with Gregorievitch at his little flat on the hill beyond 
the Cathedral. His apartment and his family were the work of 
that God whose creations Tchekov described. Gregorievitch's 
wife was nearly as tall and quite as thin as he was, and every 
minute or so she put her hand to her head in a gesture of 
apprehension so uncontrolled that it disturbed her front hair, 
which rose in that tangled palisade called a transformation, 
familiar to us on the brows of nineteenth-century minor royalties, 
and finally fixed it at an angle of about sixty degrees to her 
fine and melancholy features. This would have been comic 
had she not been a creature moulded in nobility, and had it not 
been probable that that gesture had become a habit in the early 
days of her marriage, when Gregorievitch was as young as 
Valetta, and there was a Hungarian Ban in Zagreb, and every 
knock at the door might mean, and more than once had meant, 
that police officers had come to arrest him. 

There was also a daughter, very short, very plump, very 
gay, an amazing production for the Gregorievitches. It was 
as if two very serious authors had set out to collaborate and then 
had published a limerick. We had heard about her : she wanted 
to marry a young officer, but could not because Army regula- 
tions forbade him to take a bride with a dowry below a certain 
sum, and the bank in which Gregorievitch had put his savings 
declared a moratorium. But she laughed a great deal, and 


wore a dress printed with little yellow flowers. That was not 
all in the little flat. There was also a small white poodle, which 
was pretty and neatly clipped, but old and careworn. It barked 
furiously when we entered ; on Sunday afternoon it was 
evidently accustomed to repose itself and considered visitors a 
disorderly innovation. Quivering with rage, it watched while we 
were shown the sitting-room and the little library which opened 
off it through an arch. These rooms were full of heavy Austrian 
furniture with stamped leather cushions and embroidered mats, 
and they were suffused with a curious nostalgia, as if far older 
people were living in them than was the case. In the library 
several tables were entirely covered with thousands of type- 
written pages : there must have been at least three-quarters 
of a million words. Gregorievitch told us that this was the type- 
script of his book on his war experiences, but it was only half 
finished, and now he had begun to doubt if it was morally 
justifiable to write it. To make conversation, since everybody 
was very silent, my husband looked at the bookshelves, and 
seeing that many of the volumes were well worn, said, “ I 
suppose you love your books very much?” Gregorievitch 
thought for some time and then said, “ No.” The conversation 
dropped again. 

“ Ah ! Ah 1 Ah ! ” cried Constantine, pointing his fore- 
finger. We all wheeled about and saw that the poodle was re- 
lieving itself on the carpet. The poor creature was making the 
only protest it could concerning its shattered repose ; but it 
must be admitted that the spectacle was extremely obscene, for 
its froth of white curls over its clipped limbs recalled a ballerina. 
Gregorievitch and his wife started forward with tragic faces. 
The dog got up on its hind legs and clung on to Gregorievitch’s 
hand, barking in weak defiance, putting his case about the 
sacredness of Sunday afternoon. But Gregorievitch inclined 
from his great height a face of solemn censure, as if it were a 
child or even a man who were at fault, while his wife beat 
the poodle with a small stick which had been brought from the 
hall by the daughter, who was now no longer laughing. Gre- 
gorievitch's expression reminded me of the words St. Augustine 
once addressed to a Donatist Bishop whom he was persecuting : 
“ If you could see the sorrow of my heart and my concern for 
your salvation, you would perhaps take pity on your own soul.” 

The dog was put out into the passage : but the incident could 



not be considered as ended. There remained in the middle 
of the carpet the results of its protest. We endeavoured to take 
the matter lightly, but we found that the Gregorievitches were 
evidently hurt by our frivolity ; it was as if we had chanced to 
be with them when a son of theirs had returned home drunk or 
wearing the badge of the Croat Separatist Party, and we had 
tried to tamper with the horror of the moment by laughter. 
The atmosphere was tense beyond bearing ; so Constantine, 
who had assumed an air of gravity, walked to the piano in the 
manner of an official taking charge in an emergency, and played 
a majestic motet by Bach, which recognises the fact of tragedy 
and examines it in the light of an intuitive certainty that the 
universe will ultimately be found to be reasonable. The Gre- 
gorievitches, who had sunk into two armchairs facing each 
other, sat with their arms and legs immensely extended before 
them, nodding their heads to the music and showing signs of 
deriving sober comfort from its message. There entered presently 
with a brush and dust-pan an elderly servant, in peasant costume, 
who was grinning from ear to ear at the joke the dog’s nature 
had played on the gentry. 

As she proceeded with her task Constantine passed into the 
calmer and less transcendental music of a Mozart sonata, suit- 
able to the re-establishment of an earthly decorum ; and when 
she left the room he played a brief triumphal passage from 
Handel and then rose from the piano. Madame Gregorievitch 
bowed to him, as if to thank him for having handled a social 
catastrophe with the tact of a true gentleman, and he acknow- 
ledged the bow very much as Heine might have done. She then 
began to converse with me on general topics, on the exception- 
ally severe weather and its effect on the social festivities of 
Zagreb. Meanwhile her husband took mine aside, ostensibly 
to show him a fine print representing the death of an early 
Croatian king, but really to murmur in a voice hoarse with 
resentment that he had owned both the poodle’s father and 
grandmother, and that neither of them would ever have dreamed 
of behaving in such a way. “ Nothing, man or beast, is as it was. 
Our ideals, think what has happened to our ideals . . . what 
has happened to our patriots . . 

But for dear Valetta it is not all politics. He is a man of 
letters, he is a poet. What he could give the world, if there 
could only be peace in Croatia 1 But how is there to be peace 


in Croatia 7 It is said by some that it could be imposed over* 
night, if the Serbs of Yugoslavia could nerve themselves to 
grant Federalism on the Swiss model. That would change 
the twilit character of Croatian history, it would give the 
Croats a sense of having at last won a success, it would 
give their national life a proper form. That, however, could 
never be a true solution. But supposing Croatia got her 
independence, and the peasants found they were still poor, 
stu-ely there would be a movement towards some form of 
social revolution ; and surely then the bourgeoisie and the con- 
servatives among the peasants would try to hand their country 
over to some foreign power, preferably Nasi or Fascist, for the 
sake of stability. Surely, too, the Roman Catholic Church 
would be pleased enough if Croatia left its union with Orthodox 
Yugoslavia. And if that happened there would be no more 
peace in Croatia, for either Gregorievitch or Valetta. They 
were both true Slavs, and they would neither of them be able to 
tolerate foreign domination, firstly because it was foreign, and 
secondly because it was Fascist. Suddenly they looked to me 
strange and innocent, like King Alexander of Yugoslavia in the 
first part of the film, as he was in the boat and on the quay at 
Marseilles. I pulled down the window so that 1 could see them 
better, my two dear friends who were each other’s enemies, who 
might yet be united to each other, far more closely than they 
could ever be to me, by a common heroic fate. Such a terrible 
complexity has been left by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 
which some desire to restore ; such a complexity, in which 
nobody can be right and nobody can be wrong, and the future 
cannot be fortunate. 



T he train went through a countryside dark with floods ; 
and then there was no countryside, but something like 
an abstract state of ill-being, a mist that made the land 
invisible but was not visible itself. Then we pulled up to 
mountains that were deep under new snow. Here trees became 
curious geometrical erections ; white triangles joined each 
branch-tip to the trunk. I saw one branch break under its 
burden and fall in a scattery powder of what had wrecked it. 
Valleys that I had seen in summer-time and knew to be rocky 
deserts strewn with boulders the size of automobiles were level as 
lakes and swansdown white. I grumbled at it, for I had wanted 
my husband to see the crocuses that I had seen the year before 
lying under the trees like dapples of mauve sunshine, and all 
the red anemones springing among the lion-coloured stones. I 
kept on saying, "It will be all right when we get to Dalmatia, 
when we come to the coast.” But in the early afternoon we 
caught sight of the Adriatic across barren snow-streaked hills, 
and it looked like one of the bleaker Scottish lochs. Sky and 
islands and sea alike were bruise-coloured. 

Well, I will own it. The grimness of the day was not all to 
blame. No weather can make the Northern Dalmatian coast 
look anything but drear. The dreariness is so extreme that it 
astounds like luxuriance, it gluts the mind with excess of 
deprivation. The hills are naked. That exclusion of every- 
thing but rock that we English see only in a quarry face is here 
general. It is the landscape. Tracks lead over this naked 
rock, but it is hard to believe that they lead anywhere ; it 
seems probable that they are traced by desperate men fleeing 



from barrenness, and doomed to die in barrenness. And indeed 
these bald hills mean a great deal of desperation. The rainfall 
sweeps down their slopes in torrents and carries away the soil 
instead of seeping into it and fertilising it. The peasants collect 
what soil they can from the base of the hills and carry it up 
again and pack it in terraces ; but there is not enough soil and 
the terraces are often swept away by the torrents. 

The human animal is not competent. That is the meaning 
of the naked Dalmatian hills. For once they were clothed with 
woods. These the earliest inhabitants of Dalmatia, the Illyrians 
and Romans, axed with an innocent carelessness ; and the first 
Slav settlers were reckless too, for they came from the in- 
exhaustible primeval forest of the Balkan peninsula. Then 
for three hundred years, from about the time of the Norman 
Conquest to 1420, the Hungarians struggled with the Venetians 
for the mastery of this coast, and the nations got no further 
with their husbandry. Finally the Venetian Republic established 
its claim, and thereafter showed the carelessness that egotistic 
people show in dealing with other people’s property. 

They cut down what was left of the Dalmatian forests to get 
timbers for their fleet and piles for their palaces ; and they 
wasted far more than they used. Venetian administration was 
extremely inefficient, and we know not only from Slav com- 
plaints but from the furious accusation of the Republic against 
its own people that vast quantities of timber were purloined 
by minor officials and put on the market, and that again and 
again supplies were delivered at the dockyard so far beyond 
all naval needs that they had to be let rot w'here they lay. 
After this wholesale denudation it was not easy to grow the 
trees again. The north wind, which blows great guns here in 
winter, is hard on young plantations ; and the peasant as he 
got poorer relied more and more on his goat, a vivacious animal 
insensible to the importance of afforestation. The poor peasant 
is also sometimes a thief, and it is easier to steal a young tree 
than a fully grown one. So, for all the Yugoslavian Govern- 
ment can do, the mainland and the islands gletim like monstrous 
worked flints. 

Bare hills, and young men that shout, both the product of 
human incompetence, of misgovernment. That is the im- 
mediate impression given by North Dalmatia. We met our first 
young man very soon after we got to Sushak. We strolled for 



a time round the port, which has a brown matter-of-fact hand- 
someness, and then we drove off to Trsat, a village two or three 
miles up on the heights behind Sushak, which is visited by 
countless thousands every year, for the sake of the church. 

This is not interesting in itself, or even pleasing, except for 
a charming triangular piazza in front of it, which is edged by 
horse-chestnuts. But it has the supreme claim on the attention 
of marking the site where the Holy House, in which the Virgin 
Mary and Jesus and St. Joseph lived at Nazareth, rested for 
three years and seven months, from the year 1291 to 1294, on 
its way to Loretto, where it now is. 

This is a story that enchants me. It gives a new meaning 
to the phrase “ God moves in a mysterious way " ; and the 
picture of the little house floating through space is a lovely 
example of the nonsensical function of religion, of its power to 
cheer the soul by propounding that the universe is sometimes 
freed from the burden of necessity, which inspires all the best 
miracles. It has often grieved the matter-of-fact. One English 
priest named Eustace who visited Loretto at the beginning of 
the nineteenth century wrote that many of the more sensible 
of his faith were extremely distressed by the story, and “ suppose 
the holy house to have been a cottage or log building long buried 
in a pathless forest, and unnoticed in a country turned almost 
into a desert by a succession of civil wars, invasions and revolu- 
tions, during the space of ten or twelve centuries ”. It won’t 
do. The place where the Holy House rested at Trsat is a very 
short distance indeed from the castle where the Frankopan 
family were living at the time. We must admit that sometimes 
human beings quite simply lie, and indeed it is necessary that 
they should, for only so can poets who do not know what poetry 
is compose their works. 

We pushed on to the Frankopan castle, which is the historical 
equivalent of a stall in the Caledonian Market. It is a huddle 
of round and square towers, temples and dungeons and dwelling- 
houses packed within battlements under an excess of plants and 
creepers due to neglect rather than luxuriousness. The earliest 
masonry that has been found is Illyrian, and much is Roman, 
of the time of Julius Caesar. We climbed a Roman tower to look 
down on Sushak lying tawny by the blue sea, and the dark 
ravine that runs up from the town through the foot-hills to 
split a mountain range on the high sky-line. 

VOL. 1 



We numbered seven, the litde party that was exploring the 
castle ; ourselves, a middle-aged Frenchman and his blonde 
soprano-ish wife, a German honeymoon couple, aggrieved and 
agonised, as Germans often are nowadays, at contact with 
foreigners, and a darkly handsome young man, a Dalmatian 
on holiday from some town further down the coast, who had 
early detached himself, and was seen only occasionally in the 
distance, a silhouette on the edge of the round tower after we 
had left it, or a shadow treading down the brambles at the 
entrance to the dungeons. We forgot him totally in a great 
wonder that came upon us when we were looking at the dwelling- 
house made in the castle by an early nineteenth-century Austrian 
general of Irish birth, Marshal Nugent. The Nugents had 
the custom, like the English who live in the West Indies and the 
early settlers in the Southern States, of burying their dead on 
their premises. But whereas those other exiles buried their 
dead in their gardens, the Nugents set theirs in niches of the 
house, above ground, their coffins set upright behind slabs of 

That I found puzzling. The only people I have ever heard 
of as being buried upright are the ancient Irish, whose monotony 
of mind made them wish to be discovered at the Day of Judg- 
ment ready to face their enemies ; but the Nugents are English 
by origin, and never saw Ireland till the days of Queen Elizabeth. 
But we soon forgot that bewilderment in another. The 
gardener was telling us that there was buried among the 
Nugents a stranger, a something that he described in a rapid 
phrase which we could not at first grasp. Incredulously we 
repeated his phrase ; La zia del Signore Bernard Shaw 7 Si, 
signore. We still felt a need for verification, and repeated it in 
other languages ; La tante de Monsieur Bernard Shaw 7 Die 
Tante von Herrn Bernard Shaw 7 Tetka od Gospodina Bemarda 
Shawa 7 This was the hour for which Olendorff has waited a 
hundred years. Always the gardener nodded ; and there, on 
tite tomb, which indeed had a blue-veined elegance not in- 
appropriate to Bernard Shaw himself, there was carved “ Jane 
Shaw But before we could find out how she came to be there, 
the dark young man was suddenly amongst us again, shouting 
at the top of his voice. 

He had found, it seemed, a notice behind some creepers, 
on a wall, stating that the price of admission to the castle was 



five dinars, and we had all been charged ten. A dinar is about 
a penny ; and I fancy that there was some reasonable explana- 
tion of the incident, the tariff had changed. But the young 
man was terribly enraged. All the resentment that most people 
feel in their whole lives is not greater than what he felt on this 
one point. " Zehn dinar ! " he cried, speaking in German so 
that we might understand and collaborate with him in fury. 
“ Zehn dinar ist viel, zehn dinar ist zu teuer, ist viel zu teuer ! ” 
He switched back to Serbo-Croat, so that he could make his 
accusations against the gardener with the unhampered vigour 
of a man using his native tongue. " You are an Austrian ! ” 
he screamed at him. “ You are an Italian ! ” Rage ran through 
his whole body and out of his tongue. It was plainly an 
exercised gift, a precious function proudly developed. His gift 
mastered him, he could not endure the iniquity of this place ; 
he had to leave us. Shouting protests to an invisible person, 
leaping higher and higher as if to keep in contact with his own 
soaring cries, he rushed away from us, away from the castle 
of the Frankopans, towards the place where the house of 
innocence had rested for what appears to have been the 
insufficient period of three years and seven months. 

" Maniac," said the Frenchman. “ Frightful ! ” said his 
wife. “ Savages I ” said the German couple. They were 
wrong. He was simply the product of Dalmatian history : 
the conquest of Illyria by Rome, of Rome by the barbarians ; 
then three hundred years of conflict between Hungary and 
Venice ; then four hundred years of oppression by Venice with 
the W’ar against Turkey running concurrently for most of that 
time ; a few years of hope under France, frustrated by the 
decay of Napoleon ; a hundred years of muddling misgovern- 
ment by Austria. In such a shambles a man had to shout and 
rage to survive. 

Let me try to understand the plight of this people. Because 
this is a story that no Westerner can know of himself, no English- 
man, no American. Let us consider what the Frankopans were. 
They are said to have been of Italian origin, to be affiliated 
with the Frangipani family of Rome ; but that is almost 
certainly a late invention. They were typical Dalmatian nobles : 
of unknown origin, probably aliens who had come down on the 
Slavs when thesp were exhausted by barbarian invasions, and 
were themselves of barbarian blood. Certainly they owed their 


ascendency not to virtue nor to superior culture, but to unusual 
steadfastness in peeing that it was always the other man who 
was beheaded or tossed from the window or smothered. They 
lived therefore in an agony of fear. They were liable to armed 
attack by Vienna or Hungary if ever they seemed to be favouring 
one rather than the other. Their properties were temptations to 
pirates. Their followers, and even their own families, were them- 
selves living in continual fear, and were therefore apt to buy 
their safety by betraying their overlord to his strongest enemy ; 
so overlords could trust nobody. We know a great deal about 
one Count Ivan Frankopan, in the fifteenth century. He was 
the eldest of nine sons : the other eight all conspired against 
him. To protect himself he used a device common in that age 
of legalist division : he made the Venetian Republic his heir. 
Thus it was not to the advantage of his brothers, or any other 
private person, to assassinate him. But when he seized the 
fortresses of two of his brothers he found that they were pro- 
tected by a similar testamentary precaution ; they had made 
the Count of Hungary their heir. He fled across the sea to an 
island named Krk, which was his. Then he went mad. He 
conceived the idea that he must have an infinite amount of 
money to save him from disaster. He robbed his peasants of 
their last coins. He murdered refugees who landed on his 
island in flight from the Turk, for the sake of their little stores. 
The Venetian Commissioner was ceded the island by its 
horrified inhabitants on condition they took the poor lunatic 

The bare hills around the castle told us what followed that ; 
four centuries of selfish exploitation. Then, with the French 
occupation, there was hope. The gardener showed us with 
pride a neat nineteenth-century neo-classical temple, built with 
the fidelity to antique classicism that does not deceive the eye 
for an instant, so obvious is it that the builders belonged to a 
later civilisation that had learned to listen to orchestral music 
and to drink tea from fine cups. There is a cross at the apex 
of the pediment and two well-bosomed matrons sit on its slopes, 
one decapitated by an idiot bomb dropped by one of 
D* Annunzio’s planes when he was holding Sushak’s neighbour, 
Fiume. Across the frieze of this temple is written “ Mir 
Yunaka ", which I translated to my husbanfl perhaps more 
often than was absolutely necessary, for I am delighted with my 


minute knowledge of the Serbian language. Peace to the 
Heroes, it means. This temple was erected during the French 
occupation which gave Dalmatia a peace for eight years. Eight 
years out of all time. No longer. 

For in 1806 Napoleon had still much of his youthful genius. 
It made him take over this territory after he had defeated 
Austria, and found the two provinces of High and Low Illyria 
that comprised Croatia, and Dalmatia, and Slovenia, as well as 
the Slav districts behind Trieste that are now Italian. He had 
the idea of forming a civilised Slav state, to include in time the 
Christian provinces of T urkey, which should make South- Eastern 
Europe stable, pacific and pro-French. He made Marshal Mar- 
mont the Governor of these Illyrian provinces, and it was an 
excellent appointment. Though Marmont was a self-satisfied 
prig, he was an extremely competent and honourable man, and 
he loved Dalmatia. His passion for it was so great that in his 
memoirs, his style, which was by nature dropsically pompous, 
romps along like a boy when he writes of his Illyria. He fell 
in love with the Slavs ; he defended them against their Western 
critics. They were not lazy, he said indignantly, they were 
hungry. He fed them, and set them to build magnificent roads 
along the Adriatic, and crowed like a cock over the accomplish- 
ment. They were not savages, either, he claimed : they had 
had no schools, and he built them plenty. When he saw they 
were fervent in piety, he fostered their religious institutions, 
though he himself conceived faith as buckram to stiffen the 
Army Regulations. 

Marmont would have spent all his life in paternal service 
of Dalmatia had his been the will that determined this phase 
of history. But he could achieve less and less as time went on, 
and when he resigned in 1811 the commerce of the country 
was in ruins, the law courts were paralysed by corruption, the 
people were stripped to the skin by tax-collectors, and there 
was no sort of civil liberty. For he was only Marmont, a good 
and just and sensible man whom no one would call great. But 
none denied the greatness of Napoleon, who was neither good, 
nor just, nor sensible. 

There is a school of historians to-day who claim with semi- 
erotic ardour that Napoleon’s benevolence and wisdom never 
failed. It is hard to know how this view can survive a reading 
of his correspondence with Marmont on the subject of the 


Illyrian provinces. The style of his letters is curiously frivolous 
and disagreeable. He addresses Marmont with the provocative 
mock insolence of a homosexual queen ; and there is nothing 
in the content to redeem this impression. By this time he had 
forgotten everything about his empire except the crown. He 
showed complete indifference to the welfare of the French troops 
he had left in Dalmatia, and refused to sanction the expenditure 
Marmont insisted was necessary to keep them healthy in this 
barren coast of extreme weather, and he was completely un- 
responsive to Marmont's desire to build up a virile and loyal 
population and bring it into the fold of civilisation. As time 
went on, he ignored Marmont’s letters altogether, and his 
exchequer grudged every halfpenny sent to Dalmatia. Finally, 
for no other purpose than pure offensiveness, he re-drafted the 
constitution of the provinces and reduced the post of Governor 
to a mere prefectship. Marmont could do nothing but resign 
and go back to the Army. Yet he was a born colonial adminisr 
trator, and this is one of the rarest forms of genius. 

The men Napoleon sent to Dalmatia to replace Marmont 
prove his odd sluttishness. First was General Bertrand, who 
was later to share his Emperor’s captivity on St. Helena. He 
deserved it for his treatment of the Dalmatians. To a race of 
mystics, who had been granted a special revelation of 
Christianity, because they had had to defend it against Islam, 
he applied the petty and shallow prescriptions of French 
eighteenth-century anti-clericalism. On these same mystics, 
who were also, though the West lacked the scholarship to know 
it, accomplished jurists, dowered with laws and customs spring- 
ing from ancient tradition and beautifully adapted to local 
necessities, he forced the new legislative cure-all, the Code 
Napoleon. But Bertrand was far better than his successor. 
Junot, the Duke of Abrantes, brought his career to its only 
possible climax at the Governor’s palace in the delicious 
Slovenian town of Lyublyana. He gave a State ball, and came 
down the great marble staircase, under the blazing chandeliers, 
stark naked and raving mad. But there was yet to come 
Fouch^, the Duke of Otranto : a renegade priest, one of the 
most pitiless butchers of the revolution, and in his capacity as 
the Minister of Police the worst of all traitors, Judas only 
excepted. He loathed Napoleon yet loved him, was never loyal 
to him, yet could never bring himself to betray him finally. 



There was here some nasty coquetry of spirit, some purulent 
corruption of love. Because his master was by then a beaten 
man, Fouch6 came out to Dalmatia in a yeast of loyalty, and 
indeed was inspired to glorious courage. In this far country, 
while Napoleon’s future crumbled in the West, Fouch6 acted 
all day the secure administrator and dawdled through the 
routine of Governorship, and by night worked with frenzy 
on the plans for evacuation. " Step by step, therefore, without 
losses," writes one of his biographers, “ he withdraws to Venice, 
bringing away intact or almost intact from the short-lived 
Illyria, its officials, its funds, and much valuable material.” 
All very marvellous ; but not by any accountancy could it be 
judged honest to withdraw “ funds and much valuable material " 
from that hungry country, which had beggared itself saving 
the West from the Turkish invasion. 

I did not wonder that the young man shouted as he ran 
down the road, shouted as if he must go mad, did not the world 
at last abandon its bad habit and resolve into mercy, justice 
and truth. 


The next morning we woke early, prodigiously early, so that 
before we embarked on our little steamer we could cross the 
bridge over the river that leads from Sushak to Fiume. There 
we found a town that has the quality of a dream, a bad headachy 
dream. Its original character is rotund and sunburnt and solid, 
like any pompous southern port, but it has been hacked by 
treaties into a surrealist form. On a ground plan laid out 
plainly by sensible architects for sensible people, there is imposed 
another, quite imbecile, which drives high walls across streets 
and thereby sets contiguous houses half an hour apart by detour 
and formality. And at places where no frontiers could possibly 
be, in the middle of a square, or on a bridge linking the parts 
of a quay, men in uniform step forward and demand passports, 
minatory as figures projected into sleep by an uneasy conscience. 

“ This has meant,” said my husband as we wandered through 
the impeded city, “ infinite suffering to a lot of people,” and it 
is true. Because of it many old men have said to their sons, 
" We are ruined ”, many lawyers have said to widows, “ I am 
afraid there will be nothing, nothing at all.” All this suffering 



is due, to a large part, to English inefficiency. The Treaty of 
London, signed by the Allies and Italy in 1915, was intended as 
a bribe to induce the Italians to come into the war on the Allied 
side, and it promised them practically the whole Adriatic sea* 
board of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and all but one of the 
Adriatic islands. It was made by Lord Oxford and Lord Grey, 
and it reflected the greatest discredit on them and on the officials 
of the Foreign Office. For it handed over to a new foreign yoke 
the Slav inhabitants of this territory, who were longing to rise 
in revolt against the Central Powers in support of the Allies : 
and an Italian occupation of the Adriatic coast was a threat to 
the safety of Serbia, who of all the Allies had made the most 
sacriflces. These were good reasons why the Italians should not 
have Dalmatia, and there were no reasons why they should, for 
the Italian population was negligible. 

Mercifully the Treaty of London was annulled at Versailles, 
largely through the efforts of Lloyd George and President 
Wilson. But it had done its work. It had given Italian greed 
a cue for inordinacy ; it started her wheedling and demanding 
and snatching. So she claimed Fiume on the ground that the 
inhabitants were Italian : and proved it by taking a census of 
the town, excluding one part which housed twenty-five per 
cent of the population. The I talian Government was discouraged 
by European opinion from acting on that peculiar proof, but there- 
after D’ Annunzio marched his volunteers into Fiume, in an 
adventure which, in mindlessness, violence and futility, exactly 
matched his deplorable literary works, and plunged it into 
anarchy and bloodshed. He was made to leave it, but the 
blackmail had been started. Yugoslavia had to buy peace, and 
in 1920 she conceded Italy the capital of Dalmatia, Zara, three 
Dalmatian islands, and the hinterland behind Trieste, and she 
entered into arrangements concerning Fiume which, in the end, 
left the port as it is. 

All this is embittering history for a woman to contemplate. 
I will believe that the battle of feminism is over, and that the 
female has reached a position of equality with the male, when I 
hear that a country has allowed itself to be turned upside-down 
and led to the brink of war by its passion for a totally bald 
woman writer. Years ago, in Florence, I had marvelled over 
the singular example of male privilege afforded by D’ Annunzio. 
Leaning from a balcony in the Lung’ Arno 1 had looked down on 



a triumphal procession. Bells rang, flags were waved : flowers 
were thrown, voices swelled in ecstasy : and far below an egg 
reflected the rays of the May sunshine. Here in Fiume the bald 
author had been allowed to ruin a city : a bald-headed authoress 
would never be allowed to build one. Scowling, I went on 
the little steamer that was taking us and twenty other passengers 
and as many cattle and sheep southwards to the island of Rab, 
and we set off in a cold dither of spray. 

The bare hills shone like picked bones. I fell asleep for we 
had risen at six. Then my husband shook me by the shoulder 
and said, “ You must come up on deck. This is Senj.” I 
followed him and stared at the port, which was like many others 
in Spain and Italy : from the quayside high buttoned-up houses 
washed in warm colours and two or three campaniles struggled 
up a hill towards a ruined fortress, the climbing mass girt in by 
city walls. I groaned, remembering that the climbing mass 
certified man to be not only incompetent but beastly, that here 
the great powers had mocked out of their own fulness at another’s 
misery and had shown neither gratitude nor mercy. 

Senj was the home of the Uskoks. These are not animals 
invented by Edward Lear. They were refugees. They were 
refugees like the Jews and Roman Catholics and Liberals driven 
out by Hitler. They found, as these have done, that when one 
door closed on them others that should have been open suddenly 
were not. These were driven out of their homes, out of the 
fellowship of Christendom, out of the world of virtue, into an 
accursed microcosm where there was only sin. They were 
originally Slavs of blameless character who fled before the 
Turks as they swept over Bulgaria and Serbia and Bosnia, and 
formed a strange domestic army, consisting of men, women and 
children, that fought many effective rearguard actions over a 
period of many years. Finally they halted at the pass over the 
Dalmatian mountains, behind the great port of Split, and for 
five years from 1532 they held back the Turks single-handed. 
Then suddenly they were told by their Christian neighbours to 
abandon the position. Venice, which had just signed a pact with 
Turkey, and was a better friend to her than Christian historians 
like to remember, convinced Austria that it would be wise to let 
Turkey have the pass as a measure of appeasement. 

Then the Uskoks came down to the coast and settled in this 
little town of Senj, and performed a remarkable feat. Up till 


then they had displayed courage and resolution of an unusual 
order. But they novr showed signs of genius. Some of them 
were from the southern coast of Dalmatia, down by Albania, 
but most of them were inland men. In any case they can have 
had few marine officers. But in a short time they had raised 
themselves to the position of a naval power. 

This was not a simple matter of savage daring. The Uskoks 
had unusual talent for boat-building. They devised special craft 
to suit the special needs of the Dalmatian coast, which re- 
sembled that with which the ancient Illyrians used to vex the 
Roman fleet : light boats that could navigate the creeks and be 
drawn up on the beach where there was no harbour. They also 
developed extraordinary powers of seamanship which enabled 
them to take advantage of the situation of Senj. Just here the 
channel between the mainland and the island of Krk widens to 
ten miles or so, which makes a fairway for the north wind, and it 
meets another channel that runs past the tail of the island to the 
open sea, so the seas roar rougher here than elsewhere on the 
coast. It was so when we came into Senj ; a wave larger than 
any we had met before slapped against the quay. The Uskoks 
developed a technique of using this hard weather as a shield 
against their enemies, while they ran through it unperturbed. 
Therefore they chased the Turkish ships up and down the 
Adriatic, stripped them and sank them ; and year by year they 
grew cleverer at the game This success was amazing, consider- 
ing they numbered at most two thousand souls. If the Venetian 
fleet had been directed by men of the quality of the Uskoks the 
Turks might have been driven out of European waters, which 
would have meant out of Europe, in the middle of the sixteenth 

Venice, however, was in her decline, which was really more 
spiritual than economic. Her tragedies were due to malad- 
ministration and indecisive politics rather than to actual lack 
of means. 

She tried to placate Turkey in another way. She stopped 
attacking her at sea. To the Uskoks this capitulation of the 
great Christian powers must have seemed the last word in 
treachery. They had, within the memory of all those among 
them who were middle-aged or over, been driven from their 
homes by the Turks in atrocious circumstances ; and they had 
believed that in harrying the Turks they were not only avenging 



their wrongs but were serving God and His Son. They had 
often been blessed by the Church for their labours, and Gregory 
XIII had even given them a large subsidy. But now they were 
treated as enemies of Christendom, for no other crime than 
attacking its enemies. And not only were they betrayed in the 
spirit, they were betrayed in the body. How were they to live ? 
Till then they had provided for themselves, quite legitimately 
since the Turks had dispossessed them of all their homes, by 
booty from Turkish ships. But now all that was over. The 
Christian powers had no suggestions to make. The plight of a 
refugee, then as now, provoked the feeling that surely he could 
get along somehow. There was nothing for the Uskoks to do 
except defy Venice and Austria, and attack their ships and the 
Turks’ alike. 

It seems certain that to see the story of the Uskoks thus is 
not to flatter them. For nearly thirty years they lived in such a 
state of legitimate and disciplined warfare that they attacked 
only Turkish ships. It is not until 1566 that there is the first 
record of an Uskok attack on a Christian ship. Thereafter, of 
course, the story is very different. They became gangsters of 
the sea. They developed all the characteristics of gunmen : a 
loyalty that went unbroken to the death, unsurpassable courage, 
brutality, greed and, oddly enough, thriftlessness. Just as a 
Chicago racketeer who has made an income of five figures for 
many years will leave his widow penniless, so the Uskoks, who 
helped themselves to the richest loot the sea ever carried, always 
fell into penury if they survived to old age. Also they were 
looted, as thieves often are, by the honest. It is said that they 
bribed the very highest Austrian officials, even in the seat of 
government itself at Graz ; and that a Jewish merchant might 
recognise there on a great lady’s breast a jewel which he had 
seen snatched by a robber’s hand on the Adriatic. Because of 
this traffic, it is alleged, the Austrians did little to restrain the 
Uskoks after they had become pirates. In any case it is certain 
that Venetian officials often bought the Uskoks' prizes from 
them and marketed them at a profit in Venice 

In a very short time the moral confusion of these people was 
complete. At Christmas and Easter every year there were ex- 
peditions financed by the whole of SenJ. Everybody, the officials, 
the soldiers, the private families, the priests and monks, paid 
their share of the expenses and drew a proportionate share of the 


booty. The Church received its tithe. This would be funny if 
murder had not been a necessary part of such expeditions, and 
if barbarity did not spread from heart to heart as fire runs from 
tree to tree in a forest in summer. Some of the later exploits of 
the Uskoks turn the stomach ; they would knife a living enemy, 

, tear out his heart, and eat it. Not only did the perpetrators 
of these acts lose their own souls, but the whole level of Slav 
morality was debased, for the Dalmatian peasant knew the 
Uskok’s origin and could not blame him. And the infection 
spread more widely. All the villains of Europe heard that there 
was good sport to be had in the Adriatic, and the hardier hurried 
to Senj. It testifies to the unwholesomeness of Renaissance 
Europe that some of these belonged to the moneyed classes. 
When a party of Uskoks were hanged in Venice in i6i8 nine 
of them were Englishmen, of whom five were gentlemen in the 
heraldic sense of the word, and another was a member of one 
of the noblest families in Great Britain. 

It is sometimes very hard to tell the difference between history 
and the smell of skunk. Both Venice and Austria used the de- 
gradation of these men as extra aces in their cheating game. 
The Austrians pretended to want to suppress them, but rather 
liked to have them harrying Venice. Venice sacrificed them to 
her friendship with Turkey, but that friendship was a sham ; 
she never really wept over those Turkish ships. Also she liked 
to have a legitimate source of grievance against Austria. The 
insincerity of both parties was proven by their refusal to grant 
the Uskoks’ demand, which was constantly presented during a 
period of fifty years, that they should be transported to some 
inland place and given a chance to maintain themselves either 
by tilling the soil or performing military duties. Again and 
again the poor wretches explained that they had no means of 
living except by piracy, and that they would abandon it at once 
if they were shown any other way of getting food. But Venice 
and Austria, though one was still wealthy and the other was 
becoming wealthier every day, haggled over the terms of each 
settlement and let it go. Once there was put forward a scheme 
of selling the forests of pine and beech that in those days still 
grew round Senj, and using the proceeds to build fortresses on 
the Austrian frontiers which would be manned by Uskoks. It 
fell through because neither power would agree to make an 
initial payment amounting to something like fifty pounds. At 



the same time the Uskoks were not allowed to go to any country 
which was prepared to make room for them. They were strictly 
forbidden to enlist in foreign service. They were shut up in 
piracy as in jail by powers that afTected to feel horror at their 

In the end their problem was settled in the course of an odd 
war between Austria and Venice, in which the Uskoks were used 
as a pretext by several people who wanted a light. This war 
which was about nothing and led to nothing, lasted three years 
and must have brought an infinity of suffering to the wretched 
Dalmatian peasant. But, mercifully, as it was supposed to be 
about the Uskoks the Peace Treaty had to deal with them. A 
good many were hanged and beheaded and the rest were trans- 
ported, as they themselves had requested for fifty years, to the 
interior. But the method of their transport was apparently 
unkind. There were no stout fortresses built for them or hope- 
ful villages, for no certain trace of them can be found Some 
say their descendants are to be found on the Alps at the very 
southern end of Austria ; others have thought to recognise 
them on the slopes of a mountain in North Italy. It is to be 
feared that their seed was scattered on stony ground. That is 
sad, for the seed was precious. 

We went down to the little dining-saloon and had a good, 
simple, coarse, well-flavoured luncheon. Opposite us sat a young 
man, handsome and angry, the very spit and image of the one at 
Trsat who had cried out to his God about the ten dinars ; and 
indeed they were of the same breed. For this one thrust away 
his plate as soon as it was brought to him with a gesture of fury. 
" This soup is cold ! ” he shouted, his brows a thick straight line. 
" This soup is as cold as the sea ! ” But he was not shouting at 
the soup. He was shouting at the Turks, at the Venetians, at 
the Austrians, at the French and at the Serbs (if he was a Croat) 
or at the Croats (if he was a Serb). It was good that he shouted. 

I respected him for it. In a world where during all time giants 
had clustered to cheat his race out of all their goods, his fore- 
fathers had survived because they had the power to shout, to 
reject cold soup, death, sentence to piracy, exile on far mountain 




The sea was green and hard as glass ; the crests of the waves 
were ekevaux de frise between us and a horizon of pure, very 
pale-green light, and dark-bronze islands. Our destination, 
the isle of Rab, lay before us, its mountains bare as Krk, its 
shores green as spring itself. As we came closer to it my 
husband said, " It is only scrub, of course, low woods and 
scrub." But a little later he exclaimed, " Only scrub, indeed ! 
Just smell it ! Well, I have heard of this but I never quite 
believed it." It was still distant by half a mile or so, but the 
scent of myrtle and rosemary and thyme was as strong and 
soothing a delight as sunshine. Through this lovely invisible 
cloud we rode slowly into the harbour of Rab, and found our- 
selves in one of the most beautiful cities of the world. It is 
very little. One can see it all at once, as if it were a single 
building ; and that sight gives a unique pleasure. Imagine 
finding a place where one heard perpetually a musical phrase 
which was different every time one moved a few steps, and was 
always exquisite. At Rab something comparable happens to 
the sight. The city covers a ridge overlooking the harbour. It 
is built of stone which is sometimes silver, sometimes at high 
noon and sunset rose and golden, and in the shadow sometimes 
blue and lilac, but is always fixed in restraint by its underlying 
whiteness. It is dominated by four campanili, set at irregular 
intervals along the crest of the ridge. From whatever point 
one sees it these campanili fall into a perfect relationship with 
each other and the city. We sat under a pine tree on the shore 
and ate oranges, and the city lay before us, making a statement 
that was not meaningless because it was not made in words. 
There we undressed and swam out fifty yards, and we stopped 
and trod water, because the town was making another lovely 
statement. From every yard of the channel that divides it 
from its neighbour islands, from every yard of the roads that 
wind among the inland farms and olive terraces to the bald 
mountains in the centre of the island, the city can be seen 
making one of an infinite series of statements. Yet it achieves 
this expressiveness with the simplest of means : a grey hori- 
zontal oblong with four smaller vertical oblongs rising from it. 
Euclid never spoke more simply. 




* 3 * 

This island is within sight of the barbarised home of the 
Frankopani, is set in a sea polluted by the abominations of the 
Turks and the Uskoks. It is therefore astonishing that there 
is nothing accidental about the beauty of Rab ; that in the 
fissure of this bare land there should be art and elegance of the 
most refined and conscious sort. Though Rab is no larger 
than many villages, it is a city, a focus of culture, a fantasy 
made by man when he could do more with his head and hands 
than is absolutely necessary for survival. There is a noble white 
square by the harbour, where balconies are supported by tiers 
of three lions set one upon another, pride upon pride, and 
facades are aristocratic in their very proportions, being broad 
enough to be impressive yet not too broad for respect towards 
neighbouring properties. From this square streets run up to 
the ridge of the town or along its base ; and the richness of the 
doorways and windows and columns makes each seem a passage 
in some private magnificence. In one doorway stone grows as 
fern fronds above the pilasters, enwreaths with flowers a coat 
of arms, and edges the shield above with forms delicate as 
wheat-ears. Above another doorway, opening into a cloistered 
garden, cupids hold ropes of laurel flowing from a shield and 
helmet on which an eagle broods. One cupid holds forth his 
rope of laurel with a gesture that expresses the ambition of the 
Renaissance. “ To humanity be the kingdom, the power, and 
the glory." Each of these doorways has begun to feel the weight 
of five centuries ; in the first the columns are straddling apart, 
in the second a stone has fallen and left a gap through which 
a flower pokes a scarlet head. But this shabbiness, which is not 
at all tainted by dirt, is very much what a great emperor might 
permit in the homelier parts of his palace. 

There is the same sense of private magnificence about the 
Cathedral of Rab. On the ridge there is a little square, with 
bastions and cliffs falling deeply to the shore on the further side ; 
between the tall soldierly flowers of the aloes and the swords 
of their leaves the eyes fall on the sea and its scattered islands. 
Here stands the cathedral built of rose and white marble in 
alternate courses, ornamented with blind arches of a lovely 
span. It is no bigger than many a private chapel ; and it 
has an air of not knowing what strangers are. That was the 
theory. Without, the horror, the pirate, the Turk ; within, an 
enclosed community within an enclosed community, a small 


city upon an island. One arranges one’s house with a certain 
lavishness and confidence when one believes that it is going to 
be visited only by familiars, and this cathedral is therefore at 
once domestic and elegant. It is Venetian in spirit, which is 
not to say that it is actually the work of Venetian hands : our 
English Norman and Gothic churches derive from France but 
were not built by Frenchmen. It recalls the bone-white archi- 
tectural backgrounds of Carpaccio and Bellini, that delicate 
frame of a world which is at once pious and playful, luxurious 
and simple-minded. Its interior might have been designed by 
a maker of masques, who with infinite reverence conceived the 
high mass as the supreme masque. The stage is set high above 
the onlookers : six high steps lead up to the choir, where stalls 
of heraldic pomp indicate that those who sit there are the 
servants of a great lord, and another flight mounts to the altar, 
which is sheltered and magnified by a tall baldacchino. 

This is a part of an older church, a thousand years old, built 
in the time of Slav independence. It is one of the utmost 
elegance imaginable. Its six supporting columns are of fine 
cipollino marble, and its canopy is carved from one great block 
of stone, but it is weightless as a candle-flame because of the 
exquisiteness of its design and execution. Round its six arches 
are garlands carved more finely than the emblems on the 
patricians’ doorways in the town below, which is as it should 
be, since this is the palace of the patrician above all patricians. 
The pyramided roof of the baldacchino is painted a tender red, 
the vault above it is painted a tender blue, just such colours as 
grace the festivities of a much later Venice in the paintings of 
Paolo Veronese. The community that built this cathedral was 
so civilised that it could conceive a God who would be pleased 
not by the bowlings of His worshippers and the beating of their 
breasts, but by their gaiety, by their accomplishment, by their 
restraint and dignity. At one time the island of Rab paid an 
annual tribute to the Doge of ten pounds of silk. In this 
building it paid a tribute of silken elegance to the Doge of 

Because it was noon they came to close the cathedral. We 
went out blinking into the sunlight, which for a moment was 
falling strong between thunderclouds ; and a group of women 
smiled at us and gave us some greetings in Italian, though they 
were visibly not Italian. For they were completely lacking in 

Dalmatia tij 

Latin facility. They had that fiat, unfeigned, obstinate look 
about the cheek-bones, which is the mark of the Slav, and their 
bodies were unpliable. But they were not of a harsh race that 
had usurped the home of gentler beings perished through 
gentleness. These people, and none other, had made Rab. 
Over the cathedral doorway the builders had set a Pietk, a 
Madonna holding her dead son in her arms, and she was as 
these women. With a stiff spine, with her chin high, she sits 
and holds a Christ that is dead, truly dead — for if he were 
not, where would be the occasion for all the excitement ? — 
dead as mutton, dead as the skinned lamb which one of the 
women was holding like a baby. This Madonna is as sorrowful 
as sorrow ; her son is dead as death. There is here the fullest 
acceptance of tragedy, there is no refusal to recognise the essence 
of life, there is no attempt to pretend that the bitter is the 
sweet. One must not pull wool over the eyes if one is in danger ; 
for it goes badly with one when the sword falls unless one has a 
philosophy which has contemplated the fact of death. 

Above our heads a bell gave out the hour, and I jumped 
with surprise. The women laughed indulgently, sleepily ; there 
was a semblance of noon heat settling down on the city. It was 
the Campanile of St. Christopher, the most beautiful of the 
four towers of Rab. It is said of the big bell, as it is said of 
many old ones, that when it was being cast the citizens came 
to the foundry and cast their gold and silver ornaments into the 
melting-pot ; and certainly its tone is much mollified for metal, 
it might be the voice of a dove that had grown old smd great 
and wise. Leaning back against the wall of a palace and looking 
up at the campanile my husband said ; " Look at the thing. 
It is made on a Euclidean recipe. There are four storeys. 
On the lowest is a doorway. On the next are on each wall two 
windows, each divided by a shaft. On the next there are two 
windows, each divided by two columns, on the highest there is 
one window divided by tlu-ee columns; above that is a balustrade 
of seventeen columns, every fifth one somewhat stouter. Above 
is the spire. How did that man who built this tower seven 
hundred years ago know that these severe shapes would affect 
my eyes as a chime of joy-bells would affect my ear ? He 
must have been a man of incredible cunning to make this stony 
promise of a fluid world, this geometric revelation of a universe 
in which there is not an angle." 

VOL. 1 


134 black lamb and GREY FALCON 

Out in the country round the city of Rab there are no 
revelations. There is a mystery. It is formulated also in 
stone, but not in worked stone, in the terrible naked stone of 
Dalmatia, in the terrible earth that here lies shallow and infirm 
of purpose as dust, and in the terrible faces of the people, who 
are all like crucified Christs. Everywhere there are terraces. 
High up on the bare mountains there are olive terraces ; in the 
valleys there are olive terraces ; in the trough of the valleys 
there are walled fields where an ordinary crop of springing corn 
or gprass strikes one as an abnormal profusion like a flood. On 
these enclosures black figures work frenetically. From a grey 
sky reflected light pours down and makes of every terrace and 
field a stage on which these black figures play each their special 
drama of toil, of frustration, of anguish. As we passed by on 
the stony causeway, women looked up at us, fium the fields, 
their faces furrowed with all known distresses. By their sides 
lambs skipped in gaiety and innocence, and goats skipped in 
gaiety but without innocence, and at their feet the cyclamens 
shone mauve ; the beasts and flowers seemed fortunate because 
they are not human, as those who have passed within the breath 
of a plague and have escaped it. From the olive terraces the 
men looked down with faces contracted by the greatest effort 
conceivable ; and the trees they stood upon, though the droughts 
of summer and the salt hurricanes of winter had twisted them 
to monstrous corkscrews, also seemed fortunate by comparison. 
Sometimes we met people on these causeways who begged from 
us without abjectness, without anything but hunger. Their lean 
hands came straight out before them. Their clothes asked alms 
louder than they did, making it plain that here were the poorest 
of creatures, peasants who had not the means to make a peasant 
costume, to proclaim that in their village they had skill and 
taste and their own way of looking at things. They were un- 
differentiated black rags. 

Here out in the country, the islanders spoke Serbo-Croat ; 
half an hour from the city gates we found peasants who knew 
only a few words of Italian. These are true, gaunt Slavs, 
wholly without facility, with that Slav look of being intuitionally 
aware of the opposite of the state in which they found them- 
selves at the moment, and therefore being more painfully affected 
by it if it were disagreeable. The poor have at the back of their 
sunken eyes a shining picture of wealth, the sick know what it 



is to be sound, and as the unhappy weep the scent of happiness 
dilates their nostrils. This unfamiliar way of bearing misery 
gave them a certain unity in our eyes ; but there were also 
marked differences between them, which were terrible because 
they depended to such a startling degree on the geographical 
variations, necessarily not very great, which can be observed 
here within a few hundred yards of each other. That we 
noticed on our first walk in the island. We followed a stony 
causeway along the barren lower slopes of a ridge that ran 
towards an estuary, and there the people who were working on 
the fields and who begged from us were thin and slow-moving, 
glaring in misery. Then we came to a village set on firm 
ground above the estuary, which could draw on the wealth of 
both the sea and the rich earth among the river’s mouth ; and 
here the people were stouter and brisker. 

And so it was throughout our walk, rich, poor, rich, poor. 
Once we found ourselves on the shore of a land-locked bay, 
broken with a magnificent cliff, round which there was plainly 
no road at all. We came on an old man in patched clothes 
sitting under a pine tree watching some goats, on a little head- 
land made into a harbour by a few blocks of stone. He con- 
cerned himself in our plight as if he were our host. It was 
inconceivable that he could have begged from us. There came 
presently a young fisherman in a rowing-boat, who rowed us 
across waters that were swimming with the first sunset colours 
to the village on the other side of the bay, and took his just 
fare, and would not have taken money for any other cause- 
But when we had walked half a mile or so from where we 
landed we were on barren and wind-swept lands again, and we 
met an old man, who was like the old man on the headland 
as one pea and another, and he was begging shamelessly and 
very pitifully. He had gathered some flowers from the hedge- 
rows and stood there in the dusk on the chance of some tourist 
coming along, which might justly be called an off-chance, as all 
the tourists on the island were middle-aged Germans who never 
moved a mile from the city. All this part was very poor. We 
met ragged and listless men and women hurrying through the 
twilight without zest, leaden-footed with hunger. Nevertheless 
there bloomed suddenly before us the lovely gallant human 
quality of fantasy, which when necessity binds it down with 
cords leaps up and exercises its choice where it would have 


seemed there was nothing to choose, which in destitution dares 
to prefer this to that and likes its colours bright. We came on 
a g^up that was standing lapped in pleasure all across the 
causeway in front of a young man who was showing off his new 
suit. They were peering at it and fingering it and exclaiming 
over it, as well they might, for though it was conventionally 
tailored in Western fashion it was cut from emerald velveteen. 
It was the time of dusk when colours liquefy and clot, when in a 
garden the flowers become at once more solid and more glowing ; 
the suit was a pyre of green flame, about which the black figures 
pressed insubstantially, yet with ecstatic joy. 

The poverty of the island was made plainer still to us the 
next day. Our first expedition had been over the northern part 
of the island, which is more or less protected from the north 
wind by high ground ; but this time we walked to the south, 
where there is no shelter from the blast that rakes the channel 
between Rab and its neighbour island. Here is a land and a 
people that are not only grim but desperate. Most of the 
houses are very large ; some of them are almost fortress size, 
foif the customs of land tenure make it convenient for a whole 
family to live under the same roof, even to several degrees of 
cousinship. There is something specially terrifying about a 
house that is very big and very poor, a Knole or Blenheim of 
misery. At the dark open door of one such home, that seemed 
to let out blackness rather than let in light, there waited a boy 
of seven or eight with flowers in his hand for the tourist. My 
husband thrust down into his pocket, brought up three dinars 
and one half-dinar, and peered to see what they were. The 
child shuddered with suspense, broke down, put out his little 
hand and snatched, and ran into the house. But he had not 
snatched the four coins. He had snatched just one dinar ; his 
fear had been lest my husband should give him the half-dinar. 
Later we passed a blind beggar, crouched on a bank with a 
little girl beside him. To him we gave ten dinars, that is ten- 
pence. The little girl shook him and shouted into his ear and 
gave him the coin to feel, and then shook him again, furious 
that he could not realise the miraculous good fortune that had 
befallen him ; but he went on muttering in complaint. 

The most heartrending figure we saw was not mendicant. 
It was a woman, middle-aged and of dignified physique, who 
was sitting on a stone wall, some distance from the road, in an 



attitude of despair. When we passed the place on our return, 
half an hour later, she was still sitting there. And there was 
here too an outbreak of fantasy, of the human capacity for 
laughter and wonder and invention. At a fork in the path near 
by we found a knot of men pausing for a gossip, and turning 
aside from their talk to laugh at the antics of the lambs they 
were leading to market. They dropped an amused eye on the 
pale butter-coloured waves in the white lambs’ fleeces, the 
nigger-brown waves in the black lambs’ fleeces, on the nearly 
closed curves the lambs described when they leaped clear off 
the ground and silly fore-paws dangling from a young and 
flexible backbone almost met silly hind-paws. These people 
have not been anaesthetised by loutishness. 

The day we left the island we climbed its highest peak. We 
were led by a well-mannered and intelligent man, whose rags 
were wretched, though he lived in a huge house and was evi- 
dently co-heir to a property of some extent. At the top there 
was a glory of clean salt air, and intense but unwounding light ; 
for here we are not so far from Greece, where the light is a 
benediction, and one can go out at noon till near high summer 
without wearing glasses. Below us lion-coloured islands lay in 
a dark-blue sea. To the east the mainland raised violet-grey 
mountains to a dense superior continent of white clouds ; to the 
west the long outer islands lay like the scrolls angels hold up in 
holy pictures. We leaned on a gate. It was necessary ; for the 
first time I was on a hill where it was impossible to find a place 
to sit down without inflicting on oneself innumerable sharp 
wounds. As we rested we tried to account for the state of the 
island. There is no apparent reason why it should be so poor. 
There is plenty of fish in this part of the Adriatic, including very 
good mackerel ; there are many parts of the island where oil and 
wine and corn can be grown, and sheep and swine can be raised. 
It is said that the population is too lazy to work. There was in 
the city of Rab a Viennese Jew who managed a photographic 
store, and he told us that. " They would rather beg than put 
their hands to a plough,” he had said, but his spectacles gleamed 
with smug pleasure as he spoke, and he was expressing nothing 
but adherence to the disposition of the German subjects of the 
Austrian Empire to hate and despise all subjects of other races. 
A Serb doctor who was working in Rab told us that the islanders 
could not be expected to work on the food they got ; and I 


remembered that Marmont writes in his memoirs that the lazi- 
ness of the Dalmatians was notorious, but entirely disappeared 
when he set them down to build roads on regular and adequate 

The reason for the island’s melancholy lies not in its present 
but in its past. It is only now, since the war, since Dalmatia 
became a part of a Slav state, that it has had a chance to enjoy 
the proper benefits of its economic endowment ; and since then 
there have been such overwhelming catastrophes in the world 
market that no community could live without tragic discomfort 
unless it could fall back on accumulations which it had stored 
in earlier days. That Rab has never been able to do. Some of 
the factors which have hindered her have been real acts of God, 
not to be circumvented by man. She has been ravaged by 
plague. But for the most part what took the bread out of Rab's 
mouth was Empire. The carelessness and cruelty that infects 
any power when it governs a people not its own without safe- 
guarding itself by giving the subjects the largest possible 
amount of autonomy, afflicted this island with hunger and thirst. 
Venice made it difficult for Dalmatian fishermen to make their 
profit in the only way it could be made before the day of re- 
frigeration ; the poor wretches could not salt their fish, because 
salt was a state monopoly and was not only extremely expensive 
but badly distributed. Moreover Venice restricted the building 
of ships in Dalmatia. It was her definite policy to keep the 
country poor and dependent. She admitted this very frankly, 
on one occasion, by ordering the destruction of all the mulberry 
trees which were grown for feeding silk-worms and all the olive 
trees. This law she annulled, because the Dalmatians threatened 
an insurrection, but not until a great many of the mulberry trees 
had been cut down ; and indeed she found herself able to attend 
to the matter by indirect methods. Almost all Dalmatian goods, 
except corn, which paid an export duty of ten per cent, had to be 
sold in Venice at prices fixed by the Venetians ; but any power 
that Venice wanted to propitiate, Austria, Ancona, Naples, 
Sicily or Malta, could come and sell its goods on the Dalmatian 
coast, an unbalanced arrangement which ultimately led to grave 
currency difficulties. All these malevolent fiscal interferences 
created an unproductive army of douaniers, which in turn 
created an unproductive army of smugglers. 

This was cause enough that Rab should be poor ; but there 



was a further cause which made her poorer still. It is not at all 
inappropriate that the men and women on these Dalmatian 
islands should have faces which recall the crucified Christ. The 
Venetian Republic did not always fight the Turks with arms. 
For a very long time they contented themselves with taking the 
edge off the invaders’ attack by the payment of immense bribes 
to the officials and military staff of the occupied territories. 
The money for these was not supplied by Venice. It was 
drawn from the people of Dalmatia. After the fish had rotted, 
some remained sound ; after the corn had paid its ten per cent, 
and the wool and the wine and the oil had been haggled down 
in the Venetian market, some of its price returned to the vendor. 
Of this residue the last ducat was extracted to pay the tribute to 
the Turks. These people of Dalmatia gave the bread out of 
their mouths to save us of Western Europe from Islam ; and it 
is ironical that so successfully did they protect us that those 
among us who would be broad-minded, who will in pursuit of 
that end stretch their minds till they fall apart in idiocy, would 
blithely tell us that perhaps the Dalmatians need not have gone 
to that trouble, that an Islamised West could not have been 
worse than what we are to-day. Their folly is certified for what 
it is by the mere sound of the word “ Balkan ” with its sugges- 
tion of a disorder that defies human virtue and intelligence to 
accomplish its complete correction. I could confirm that certifi- 
cate by my own memories : I had only to shut my eyes to smell 
the dust, the lethargy, the rage and hopelessness of a Mace- 
donian town, once a glory to Europe, that had too long been 
Turkish. The West has done much that is ill, it is vulgar and 
superficial and economically sadist ; but it has not known that 
death in life which was suffered by the Christian provinces under 
the Ottoman Empire. From this the people of Rab had saved 
me ; I should say, are saving me. The woman who sat on the 
stone wall was in want because the gold which should have been 
handed down to her had bought my safety from the Turks. 
Impotent and embarrassed, I stood on the high mountain and 
looked down on the terraced island where my saviours, small 
and black as ants, ran here and there, attempting to repair 
their destiny. 



SpUt I 

Split, alone of all cities in Dalmatia, has a Neapolitan air. 
Except for a few courtyards in its private houses it does not 
exhibit the spirit of Venice, which is at once so stately and so 
materialist, like a proud ghost that has come back to remind men 
that he failed for a million. It recalls Naples, because it also 
is a tragic and architecturally magnificent sausage-machine, 
where a harried people of mixed race have been forced by 
history to run for centuries through the walls and cellars and 
sewers of ruined palaces, and have now been evicted by a turn 
of events into the open day, neat and slick and uniform, taking 
to modern clothes and manners with the adaptability of oil, 
though at the same time they are set apart for ever from the 
rest of the world by the arcana of language and thoughts they 
learned to share while they scurried for generations close 
pressed through the darkness. 

Split presents its peculiar circumstances to the traveller the 
minute he steps ashore. We left the great white liner, the 
Alexander, that had brought us through the night from 
Rab, and the history of the place was on our right and our left. 
On the left was the marine market, where fishing-boats are used 
for stalls ; men who must be a mixture of sailor and retailer 
bring goods over from the islands, take their boats head-on to 
the quay, and lay out their wares in little heaps on the prows. 
Pitiful little heaps they often are, of blemished apples, rags of 
vegetables, yellowish boards of dried fish, but the men who sell 
them are not pitiful. They look tough as their own dried fish, 
and stand by with an air of power and pride. This coast feeds 
people with other things than food ; it grudges them the means 
of life, but lets them live. On our right was a row of shops, 
the caf^s and rubbisheries which face any port ; the houses 
that rise above them were squeezed between the great Corinthian 
columns in the outer gallery of Diocletian’s palace. 

For Split is Diocletian’s palace : the palace he built himself 
in 305, when, after twenty years of imperial office, he abdicated. 
The town has spread beyond the palace walls, but the core of it 
still lies within the four gates. Diocletian built it to be within 
suburban reach of the Roman town of Salonae, which lies near 
by on the gentle slopes between the mountains and the coastal 


* 4 * 

plain. The site had already been occupied by a Greek settlement, 
which was called Aspalaton, from a fragrant shrub still specially 
abundant here. In the seventh century, the Avars, that tribe 
of barbarian marauders who were to provoke a currency crisis 
in the Middle Ages because they looted so much gold from 
Eastern and Central Europe and hoarded it, came down on 
Dalmatia. They swept down on Salonae and destroyed it by 
fire and sword. The greater part of the population was killed, 
but some had time to fiee out to the islands, which gave them 
the barest refuge. What they suffered in those days from cold 
and hunger and thirst is still remembered in common legend. 
In time they crept back to the mainland, and found nothing left 
more habitable than the ruins of Diocletian’s palace. There 
they made shelters for themselves against the day when there 
should be peace. They are still there. Peace never came. 
They were assailed by the Huns, the Hungarians, the Venetians, 
the Austrians, and some of them would say that with the over- 
coming of those last enemies they still did not win peace ; and 
during these centuries of strife the palace and the fugitives have 
established a perfect case of symbiosis. It has housed them, 
they are now its props. After the war there was a movement to 
evacuate Split and restore the palace to its ancient magnificence 
by pulling down the houses that had been wedged in between 
its walls and columns ; but surveyors very soon found out that 
if they went all Diocletian’s work would fall to the ground. The 
people that go quickly and darkly about the streets have given 
the stone the help it gave them. 

“ I would like to go into the palace at once,” said my 
husband, " and I greatly wish we could have brought Robert 
Adam’s book of engravings with us.” That thought must occur 
to many people who go to Split. Adam’s book on Diocletian’s 
Palace is one of the most entertaining revelations of the origins 
of our day, pretty in itself and an honour to its author. He 
came here from Venice in 1757, and made a series of drawings 
which aimed at showing what the palace had been like at the 
time of its building, in order to obtain some idea of “ the 
private edifices of the ancients ”. The enterprise took a great 
deal of perseverance and courage, for all idea of the original 
plan had been lost centuries before. He had to trace the old 
walls through the modern buildings, and was often hindered 
by the suspicions of both the inhabitants and the authorities. 


The Venetian Governor of the town was quite sure he was a 
spy and wanted to deport him, but the Commander-in-Chief 
of the Venetian garrison, who happened to be a Scotsman, and 
one of his Croat officers, were sufficiently cultured to recognise 
Adam for what he was, and they got him permission to carry 
on his work under the supervision of a soldier. 

The indirect results were the best of Georgian architecture, 
with its emphasis on space and variety and graceful pomp ; 
often when we look at a facade in Portman Square or a doorway 
in Portland Place, we are looking at Roman Dalmatia. The 
direct result was this book of enchanting drawings — some 
of them engraved by Bartolozzi — which, though service- 
ably accurate, are beautiful examples of the romantic con- 
vention’s opinion that an artist should be allowed as much 
latitude in describing a landscape as an angler is allowed in 
describing a fish. The peaks of Dalmatia are shown as monstrous 
fencers lunging at the black enemy of the sky ; the Roman 
cupolas and columns have the supernatural roundness of a 
god’s attack of mumps ; vegetation advances on ruins like 
infantry ; and peasants in fluent costumes ornament the fore- 
ground with fluent gestures, one poor woman, whom I specially 
remember, bringing every part of her person into play, including 
her bust, in order to sell a fowl to two turbaned Jews, who like 
herself are plainly Veronese characters in reduced circumstances. 
In the corner of certain drawings are to be seen Adam himself 
and his French assistant, Clerisseau, sketching away in their 
dashing tricornes and redingotes, very much as one might 
imagine the two young men in Cost fan Tutte. It is delightful 
to And a book that is a pretty book in the lightest sense, that 
pleases like a flower or a sweetmeat, and that is also the founda- 
tion for a grave and noble art which has sheltered and nourished 
us all our days. 

“ Yes,” I said to my husband, “ it is disgusting that one 
cannot remember pictures and drawings exactly. It would 
have been wonderful to have the book by us, and see exactly 
how the palace struck a man of two centuries ago, and how it 
strikes us, who owe our eye for architecture largely to that 
man.” " Then why did we not bring the book ? ” asked my 
husband. “ Well, it weighs just over a stone,” I said. “ I 
weighed it once on the bathroom scales.” " Why did you do 
that ? ” asked my husband. " Because it occurred to me one 



day that I knew the weight of nothing except myself and joints 
of meat,” 1 said, " and I just picked that up to give me an idea 
of something else.” " Well, well ! ” said my husband, " it 
makes me distrust Fabre and all other writers on insect life 
when I realise how mysterious your proceedings would often 
seem to a superior being watching them through a microscope. 
But tell me, why didn’t we bring it, even if it does weigh a little 
over a stone ? We have a little money to spare for its transport. 
It would have given us pleasure. Why didn’t we do it ? ” 
" Well, it would have been no use,” I said ; “ we couldn’t 
have carried anything so heavy as that about the streets.” 
“ Yes, we could,” said my husband ; “ we could have hired a 
wheelbarrow and pushed it about from point to point.” “ But 
people would have thought we were mad ! ” I exclaimed. “ Well, 
would they ? ” countered my husband. “ That’s just what I’m 
wondering. In fact, it’s what made me pursue the subject. 
These Slavs think all sorts of things natural that we think odd ; 
nothing seems to worry them so long as it satisfies a real desire. 
I was wondering if they could take a thing like this in their 
stride ; because after all we feel a real desire to look at Adam’s 
book here.” ” I don’t know,” I said, “ but there is Philip 
Thomson standing in the doorway of our hotel, and we can ask 

Philip Thomson teaches English to such inhabitants of 
Split as wish to learn it. He is a fine-boned, fastidious, observant 
being, very detached except in his preference for Dalmatia over 
all other parts of the world, and for Split over all other parts 
of Dalmatia. We had morning coffee with him, good un- 
necessary elevenses, in the square outside our hotel, a red 
stucco copy of a Venetian piazza, with palm trees in it, which 
is quite a happy effort, and we put the question to him. ” Oh, 
but they’d think it very odd here, if you went about the streets 
trundling a book in a wheel-barrow and stopping to look at the 
pictures in it, very odd indeed,” said Philip. " You evidently 
don’t understand that here in Split we are very much on parade. 
We’re not a bit like the Serbs, who don’t care what they do, 
who laugh and cry when they feel like it, and turn cartwheels 
in the street if they want exercise. That’s one of the reasons 
we don’t like the Serbs. To us it seems self-evident that a proud 
man must guard himself from criticism every moment of the day. 
That’s what accounts for the most salient characteristic of the 


Splitchani, which is a self-flaying satirical humour ; better laugh 
at yourself before anybody else has time to do it. But formality is 
another result. I suppose it comes of being watched all the time 
by people who thought they were better than you, the Dalma- 
tians, the Hungarians and the Venetians and the Austrians.” 

“ But all this,” Philip continued, “ brings to light one very 
strange thing about Split. Did you notice how I answered 
you off-hand, as if Split had a perfectly definite character, and 
I could speak for the whole of its inhabitants ? Well, so I 
could. Yet that’s funny, for the old town of Split was a tiny 
place, really not much more than the palace and a small over- 
flow round its walls, and all this town you see stretching over 
the surrounding hills and along the coast is new. A very large 
percentage of the population came here after the war, some to 
work, some as refugees from the Slav territories which have 
been given to Italy. Do you see that pretty dark woman who 
is just crossing the square ? She is one of my star pupils and 
she belongs to a family that left Zara as soon as it was handed 
over to the Italians, like all the best families of the town. Now 
Zara has quite a different history, and, from all I hear, quite a 
different atmosphere. But this woman and her family, and all 
the others who migrated with her, have been completely absorbed 
by Split. They are indistinguishable from all the natives, and 
I have seen them in the process of conversion. It’s happened 
gradually but surely. It’s a curious victory for a system of 
manners that, so far as I can see, has nothing to do with eco- 
nomics. For people here are not rich, yet there is considerable 

This is, indeed, not a rich city. Later we lunched with 
Philip in a restaurant which though small was not a mere 
bistrot, which was patronised by handsome and dignified people 
who were either professional or commercial men. For the sweet 
course we were given two apiece of palatschinken, those pan- 
cakes stuffed with jam which one eats all over Central Europe. 
The Balkans inherited the recipe from the Byzantines, who ate 
them under the name of palacountas. We could eat no more 
than one, for the meal, as almost always in these parts, had been 
good and abundant. " Shall I put the palatschinken in paper 
for the Herrschaft to take home with them ? ” asked the waiter. 
We thought not. But the waiter doubted our sincerity. “ Is 
it because they are strangers,” he asked Philip, “ and do not 



know that we are always delighted to do this sort of things for 
our clients ? Down in the new hotels, I fully understand, they 
would be disagreeable about it, such institutions being, as we 
know, founded on extravagance and ostentation. But here we 
are not like that, we know that what God gave us for food was 
not meant to be wasted, so the Herrschaft need not be shy.” 
" I do not think that they are refusing your kind offer because 
they are shy,” said Philip resourcefully, “ you see they are stay- 
ing at one of the big hotels, and they will have to dine there 
anyway, so really the palatschinken would be of very little use 
to them.” 

The waiter accepted this, and went away ; but soon came 
back. “ But if the Herrschaft took them away with them,” he 
insisted, " then they would not order a whole dinner. They 
could just take the soup and a meat dish, and afterwards they 
could go upstairs and have these instead of dessert. ” " Thank you 
very much for your kind thought,” said Philip, still not at a loss. 
" I think, however, that my friends are en pension.” " But it 
would be nice,” said the waiter, “ if the lady felt hungry in the 
night, for her to be able to put out her hand and find a piece of 
cold palatschinken by her bed.” I shall never think he was 
right ; but his kindly courtesy was something to be remembered, 
and his sense, not hysterical but quietly passionate, of economy 
as a prime necessity. In Diocletian’s Palace, throughout the 
ages, a great many very well-mannered people must have 
learned to draw in their belts very tight upon occasion ; and 
certainly they would be encouraged to be mannerly by their 
surroundings which, even to-day, speak of magnificent decorum. 

It is not, of course, remarkable as an example of Roman 
architecture. It cannot hold a candle to the Baths of Caracalla, 
or the Forum, or the Palatine. But it makes an extraordinary 
revelation of the continuity of history. One passes through the 
gate that is squeezed between the rubbisheries on the quayside 
straight into antiquity. One stands in the colonnaded courtyard 
of a fourth-century Roman palace ; in front is the entrance to 
the imperial apartments, to the left is the temple which was 
Diocletian’s mausoleum, now the Cathedral, and to the right is 
the Temple of Aesculapius, just as a schoolboy learning Latin 
and as old ladies who used to go to the Royal Academy in the 
days of Alma-Tadema would imagine it. Only the vistas have 
been filled in with people. Rather less than one-fifth of the 


population of Split, which numbers forty-four thousand, lives in 
the nine acres of the palace precincts ; but the remaining four- 
fifths stream through it all day long, because the passages which 
pierce it from north to south and from east to west are the most 
convenient ways to the new parts of the town from the harbour. 
The fifth that lives within the palace packs the sides of these 
crowded thoroughfares with houses set as closely as cells in a 
honeycomb, filling every vacant space that was left by Dio- 
cletian’s architects. One cannot, for example, see the Temple 
of Aesculapius as one stands in the fine open courtyard as it 
' was intended one should do ; the interstices on that side of the 
peristyle have been blocked by Venetian Gothic buildings, 
which project balconies on a line with the entablatures of neigh- 
bouring coliunns and open doorways just beside their bases. 

Yet there is no sense of disorder or vandalism. It would be 
as frivolous to object to the adaptations the children of the 
palace have made to live as it would be to regret that a woman 
who had reared a large and glorious family had lost her girlish 
appearance. That is because these adaptations have always 
been made respectfully. So far as the walls stood they have 
been allowed to stand ; there has been no destruction for the 
sake of pilfering material for new buildings. It is, therefore, 
as real an architectural entity, as evident to the eye of the be- 
holder, as the Temple or Gray’s Inn. There is only one blot 
on it, and that is not the work of necessity. In the middle of 
the peristyle of the imperial apartments, this superb but small 
open space, there has been placed a statue by Mestrovitch of a 
fourth-century Bishop who won the Slavs the right to use the 
liturgy in their own tongue. Nobody can say whether it is a 
good statue or not. The only fact that is observable about it 
in this position is that it is twenty-four feet high. A more un- 
godly misfit was never seen. It reduces the architectural pro- 
portions of the palace to chaos, for its head is on a level with 
the colonnades, and the passage in which it stands is only forty 
feet wide. This is hard on it, for on a low wall near by there 
lies a black granite sphinx from Egypt, part of the original 
decorations of the palace, but far older, seventeen hundred years 
older, of the great age of Egyptian seulpture ; and though this 
is not five feet long its compact perfection makes the statue of 
the Bishop gangling and flimsy, lacking in true mass, like one 
of those marionettes one may sometimes see through the open 



door of a warehouse in Nice, kept against next year’s Carnival. 

It cannot be conceived by the traveller why Mestrovitch 
wanted this statue to be put here, or why the authorities 
humoured him. If the step was inspired by nationalist senti- 
ment, if it is supposed to represent the triumph of the Slav 
over Roman domination, nobody present can have known 
much history. For Diocletian’s Palace commemorates a time 
when the Illyrians, the native stock of Dalmatia, whose blood 
assuredly runs in the veins of most modern Dalmatians, had 
effective control of the Roman Empire ; it commemorates one 
of the prettiest of time's revenges. Rome destroyed, for perhaps 
no better reason than that she was an empire and could do it, 
the ancient civilisation of Illyria. But when she later needed 
soimd governors to defend her from barbarian invaders, Illyria 
gave her thirteen rulers and defenders, of whom only one was 
a failure. All the others deserved the title they were given, 
restitutores orbis ; even though it turned out that the earth as 
they knew it was not restorable. Of these the two greatest were 
Diocletian and Constantine ; and some would say that Dio- 
cletian was the greater of the two. 

His mausoleum is exquisitely appropriate to him. It is a 
domed building, octagonal outside and circular within. It is 
naughtily designed. Its interior is surrounded by a double 
row of columns, one on top of the other, which have no 
functional purpose at all ; they do nothing except support 
their own over-elaborate entablatures and capitals, and eat up 
much valuable space in doing so. Diocletian came to Rome 
when the rose of the world was overblown, and style forgotten. 
It must originally have been pitchy dark, for all the windows 
were made when it was centuries old. Because of this blackness 
and something flat-footed and Oriental in the design, some 
have thought that Diocletian did not build it as a temple nor 
as a mausoleum. They have suspected that he, who was first 
and foremost a soldier and turned by preference to the East, 
was a follower of the bloody and unspiritual but dramatic 
religion of Mithraism, the Persian cult which had been adopted 
by the legionaries, and that here he tried to make a mock 
cavern, an imitation of the grottoes in which his fellow-soldiers 
worshipped the god that came out of the sun. But not 
only is the building otiose and dank, it is oddly executed. 
It is full of incongruities, such as a lack of accord between 

mS black lamb and grey falcon 

capitals and entablatures, which were committed because the 
architects were using the remains of older buildings as their 
material, and had to join the pieces as best they could. Diocletian 
had done much the same for the Roman Empire. He took 
the remains of a social and political structure and built them 
into a new and impressive-looking edifice. 

In this palace of old oddments put together to look like new, 
this imperial expert in makeshifts must have had some better 
moments. His edicts show that he was far too intelligent not 
to realise that he had not made a very good job of his cobbling. 
He was a great man wholly worsted by his age. He probably 
wanted real power, the power to direct one’s environment 
towards a harmonious end, and not fictitious power, the power 
to order and be obeyed ; and he must have known that he had 
not been able to exercise real power over Rome. It would 
have been easier for him if what we were told when we were 
young was true, and that the decay of Rome was due to im- 
morality. Life, however, is never as simple as that, and human 
beings rarely so potent. There is so little difference between the 
extent to which any large number of people indulge in sexual 
intercourse, when they indulge in it without inhibitions and 
when they indulge in it with inhibitions, that it cannot often 
be a determining factor in history. The exceptional person 
may be an ascetic or a debauchee, but the average man finds 
celibacy and sexual excess equally difficult. All we know of 
Roman immorality teaches us that absolute power is a poison, 
and that the Romans, being fundamentally an inartistic people, 
had a taste for pornography which they often gratified in the 
description of individuals and families on which that poison 
had worked. 

Had general immorality been the cause of the decay of the 
empire, Diocletian could have settled it ; he was a good bullying 
soldier. But the trouble was pervasive and deep-rooted as 
couch-grass. Rome had been a peasant state, it had passed on 
to feudal capitalism, the landowners and the great industrialists 
became tyrants ; against this tyranny the bourgeoisie and the 
proletariat revolted. Then the bourgeoisie became the tyrants. 
They could bribe the town proletariat with their leavings, but the 
peasants became their enemies. The army was peasant, for 
country stock is healthier. Therefore, in the third century, 
there was bitter strife between the army and the bourgeoisie. 


Then came the Illyrian emperors, restitutores orbis. Order, it 
was said, was restored. 

But this, the greatest of the Illyrian emperors, must have 
known that this was not true : that, on the contrary, disorder 
had been stabilised. His edicts had commanded in the per- 
emptory tone of the parade-g^und that every man in the 
empire should stay by his post and do his duty, fulfilling this 
and that public obligation and drawing this and that private 
reward. There was genius in his plan. But it was a juggler’s 
feat of balancing, no more. It corrected none of the fundamental 
evils of Roman society. This could hardly be expected, for 
Diocletian had been born too late to profit by the discussion of 
first principles which Roman culture had practised in its securer 
days ; he had spent his whole life in struggles against violence 
which led him to a preoccupation with compulsion. He main- 
tained the empire in a state of apparent equilibrium for twenty- 
one years. But the rot went on. The roads fell into ruin. The 
land was vexed with brigands and the sea with pirates. Agri- 
culture was harried out of existence by demands for taxation 
in kind and forced labour, and good soil became desert. Prices 
rose and currency fell ; and to keep up the still enormously 
costly machinery of the central administration the remnants of 
the moneyed class were skinned by the tax-collector. The 
invasion of the barbarians was an immediate danger, but only 
because the empire was so internally weakened by its economic 
problems. Of these nobody knew the solution at the beginning 
of the fourth century, and indeed they have not been solved 
now, in the middle of the twentieth century. 

For some strange reason many have written of Diocletian’s 
resignation of imperial power and retirement to his native 
Illyria as if it were an unnatural step which required a special 
explanation. Some of the pious have thought that he was 
consumed by remorse for his persecution of the Christians, but 
nothing could be less likely. Immediately after his election as 
Emperor he had chosen to share his power with an equal and 
two slightly inferior colleagues, in a system which was known 
as the Tetrarchy ; and it was one of his colleagues, Galerius, 
who was responsible for what are falsely known as the persecu- 
tions of Diocletian. But nothing could be more comprehensible 
than that he should, just then, have wanted rest and his own 
country. He was fifty-nine, and had been exceedingly ill for a 



year ; and he had twenty-one years of office behind him. He 
had had a hard life. He had come from a peasant home to 
enlist in one of the two Dalmatian legions, and since then he 
had borne an increasing burden of military and legislative 
responsibility. Violence must have disgusted such an intelligent 
man, but he had had to avail himself of it very often. In order 
to be chosen Caesar by the military council he had had to whip 
out his sword and drive it into the breast of a fellow-officer 
who might have been a rival. So often, indeed, had he had to 
avail himself of violence that he must have feared he would 
himself become its victim at the end. A society which is ruled 
by the sword can never be stable, if only because the sword is 
always passing from hand to hand, from the ageing to the 

In the halls of his palace, which must have been extremely 
cold and sunless, as they were lit only by holes in the roof, he 
cannot have found the peace he sought. The disorder of the 
world increased. The members of the Tetrarchy wrangled ; 
some died and were replaced by others not less contentious. 
They split the empire between their greeds, and suddenly, 
improbably, they dipped their fingers into Diocletian’s blood. 
He had a wife called Prisca and a daughter called Valeria, who 
were very dear to him. Both had become Christians. We 
know of no protest against this on the part of Diocletian. 
Valeria’s hand he had disposed of in circumstances that bring 
home the psychological differences between antiquity and the 
modern world. When he had been chosen as Emperor he had 
elected to share his power first with Maximian alone, then with 
two other generals, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus. When 
these two last were admitted to the sovereign authority, Dio- 
cletian adopted Galerius and Maximian adopted Constantius 
Chlorus, and each adopted father gave his daughter to his 
adopted son, though this meant that each had to repudiate his 
existing wife. 

The marriage of Valeria must have been sufficiently horrible ; 
for Galerius was a brute whose violence precipitated him from 
disaster to disaster, and he was bitterly anti-Christian. But 
she found solace in caring for his illegitimate son, Candidianus, 
and at last Galerius died, issuing on his deathbed an edict 
which put an end to the persecution of the Christians. She 
might have then enjoyed some happiness had she not been left 


> 5 « 

a very rich woman. This made Galerius’ successor, Maximin 
Daia, want to marry her, although he had a wife. When she 
refused he brought fraudulent legal proceedings against her. 
All her goods were confiscated, her household was broken up, 
some of her women friends were killed, and she and the boy 
Candidianus were sent into exile in the deserts of Syria. It is 
only in some special and esoteric sense that women are the pro- 
tected sex. 

From these dark halls Diocletian appealed for mercy to the 
man whom his own invention of the Tetrarchy had raised 
to power. He entreated Maximin Daia to allow Valeria 
to come back to Aspalaton. He was refused. But later it 
seemed that Valeria was safe, for Maximin Daia died, and 
she and Candidianus were able to take refuge with another 
of the four Caesars, Licinius, who first received them with a 
kindliness that was natural enough, since he owed his ad- 
vancement to the dead Galerius. It looked as if they would 
find permanent safety with him. But suddenly he turned 
against them and murdered the boy, for no other reason 
than that he was a cruel and stupid man and bloodshed 
was fashionable just then. Valeria managed to escape in 
the dress of a plebeian and disappeared. To Diocletian, 
fond father though he was, this may have brought no special 
shattering shock. It may have seemed but one shadow in the 
progress of a night that was engulfing all. For Diocletian was 
receiving letters that were pressing him to visit Licinius and his 
ally, the Caesar Constantine. He excused himself, pleading 
illness and old age. The invitations became ominously insistent. 
He was in danger of being involved in a dispute among the 
Tetrarchs. Sooner or later one side or other would have his 
blood. He died, it is thought by self-administered poison, some 
time between 313 and 316. The earlier date is to be hoped for ; 
in that case he would not have heard that in 314 his daughter 
was found in hiding at Salonica and there beheaded and thrown 
into the sea. 


What did Diocletian feel when all this was happening to him ? 
Agony, of course. It is an emotion that human beings feel far 
more often than is admitted ; and it is not their fault. History 
imposes it on us. There is no use denying the horrible nature 
of our human destiny. Diocletian must have felt one kind of 
agony because he was a healthy peasant, and his bowels must 


have slid backwards and forwards like a snake when he doubted 
the safety of his daughter ; another because though he had 
been bom a peasant he had been bom a peasant into a civilised 
world, and faculties developed in civilisation are revolted when 
they have to apprehend experiences provided by barbarism ; 
and another because it is always terrible to advance from 
particular success to particular success and be faced at last 
with general defeat, and he had passed from achievement to 
achievement only to see the negation of all his achievements 
decreed by impersonal forces which, if he had been truly imperial 
and the right object of worship by the common man, he should 
have anticipated and forestalled. How did he endure all these 
agonies i* If he went for comfort into the building which was 
afterwards his mausoleum, and if it was, as some think, the 
temple of Jupiter, he can have found little enough. Paganism, 
when it was not rural and naively animist, or urban and a brake 
applied to the high spirits of success, must have been an empty 
form, claiming at its most ambitious to provide just that 
stoicism which an exceptional man might find for himself and 
recognise as inadequate. If the building was a Mithraic grotto, 
then he must have looked at the governing sculpture of the god 
slitting the throat of the bull and he must have said to himself, 
" Yes, the world is exactly like that. I know it. Blood flows, 
and life goes on. But what of it ? Is the process not disgust- 
ing ? ” And Mithras would give no answer. 

It is possible that Diocletian found his comfort in the 
secular side of his palace, in its splendour. Some have thought 
that he built it for the same reason that he had built his baths 
in Rome, to give work to the vast number of proletarians that 
were hungry and idle. But these grandiose public works would 
not have come into Diocletian’s mind had he not been in love 
with magnificence, and indeed he had demonstrated such an 
infatuation while he was Emperor by his elaboration of court 
ceremonial. It had grown more and more spectacular during 
the last century or so, and he gave its gorgeousness a fixed and 
extreme character. There was more and more difficulty in 
gaining access to the sacred person of the Emperor, and those 
who were given this privilege had to bow before him in an act 
of adoration as due to the holy of holies. The Emperor, who 
was by then a focus of unresolvable perplexities, stood providing 
a strongly contrary appearance in vestments stiff with richness 


and insignia glittering with the known world’s finest preciops 
stones and goldsmith’s work ; and his visitor, even if the same 
blood ran in his veins, had to kneel down and touch a comer 
of the robe with his lips. 

Diocletian, who had prescribed this ritual, must certainly 
have derived some consolation from the grandeur of Aspalaton, 
the great arcaded wall it turned to the Adriatic, its four separate 
wards, each town size, and its seventeen watch-towers, its 
plenitude of marble, its colonnades that wait for proud pro- 
cessions, its passages that drive portentously through darkness 
to the withdrawn abode of greatness. Robes stiff with em- 
broidery help the encased body to ignore its flimsiness ; a 
diadem makes the head forget that it has not yet evolved the 
needed plan of action. In a palace that lifts the hard core out 
of the mountains to make a countryside impregnable by wind 
and rain, it would seem untrue that we can build ourselves no 
refuge against certain large movements of destiny. But there 
was a consideration which may have disturbed Diocletian as he 
tried to sustain himself on Aspalaton. It was not Rome, 
which he had visited only once, that had given him his 
conception of magnificence as an aid to the invincibility of 
government. He had drawn it from Persia, where he had been 
immensely impressed by the vast palaces and their subtle and 
evocative ceremonial. But he had visited Persia as an invader, 
to destroy the Sassanian kings. The symbol that he depended 
upon he had himself proved invalid. 

After his death he remained corporeally in possession of 
the palace, his tomb resting in the centre of the mausoleum. 
Thirty years or so later, a woman was put to death for stealing 
the purple pall from his sarcophagus, a strange, crazy crime, 
desperate and imaginative, a criticism in which he would by 
now have concurred, for the walls of the empire which he had 
failed to repair had fallen and let a sea of catastrophe wash 
over his people. The Adriatic was ravaged by Vandal pirates, 
and Rome had been sacked by the barbarians three times in 
sixty years ; the Huns had devastated the Danube, and Salonae 
was crowded with refugees. But this was for the meantime a 
little ledge of safety, and ordinary life went on and seemed to 
prove that there was some sense in the idea of building a palace 
for shelter. Illyria had always been noted for its textiles. There 
is a statue of the Emperor Augustus in the Capitoline Museum 


at Rome, which has on its shield the figure of an Illyrian ; he 
is wearing a knee-length tunic, beltless but with sleeves, and 
ornamented by bands running from the shoulders to the lower 
hem. This is our first knowledge of the Dalmatic. In the third 
century the Pope ordered that all martyrs should be buried 
in it, and it is still worn by all deacons and officiating Bishops 
in the Western church, and by English kings at their coronation. 
No matter what bestial tricks history might be playing, there 
were always looms at work in Illyria. A considerable corner of 
Aspalaton was taken up by a large factory, operated by female 
labour, which turned out uniforms for the Roman Army as 
well as civilian material. 

But other events proved that a palace is no shelter at all. 
In the middle of the fifth century there arose a Dalmatian of 
genius, Marcellinus, who served the army loyally on condition 
that he was allowed to rule Dalmatia as an independent 
kingdom owing allegiance to the Emperor. It is possible that 
the empire might have survived as a federation of such states, 
modest in extent and governed by men of local ambitions on the 
old Roman principles of efficiency and public spirit. Marcellinus 
took up his residence in Diocletian’s Palace, and with his 
courage and wisdom and energy in the defence of his people 
filled it again with recognisable majesty. But after thirteen 
years of benign brilliance he went in the service of the Emperor 
to Sicily, for the purpose of leading an expedition against the 
Vandals in Africa ; and there he was murdered by order of 
Ricimer, a German general who was one of the barbarians who 
were destroying Rome from within. They had no use for local 
potentates who would build up the empire by raising their 
territories to military and economic strength ; they wanted it as 
a defenceless field of exploitation for an international army. 
The last of the restitutores orbU had not found safety where he 
might accomplish his work. 

A few years later his nephew, who was called by that name, 
Julius Nepos, Julius the Nephew, and had ruled Dalmatia in 
his uncle’s place, was called to be Emperor of the West. It was 
not an encouraging invitation. " Cocky, cocky, come and be 
killed.” But since it was issued by the Emperor of the East he 
did not dare to refuse. He had at once to oust a competitor, 
whom he consoled for his defeat by making him Bishop of 
Salonae ; chroniclers with a sense of the picturesque describe 



him tearing off his rival's imperial insignia and delivering him 
over to a barber who cut his tonsure and a priest who gave him 
the episcopal consecration. It was a practical step, since it pre- 
vented his rival avenging himself. Julius the Nephew had no 
chance to show his quality, for he was faced by an infinity of 
hostile barbarians, within and without the empire, and he made 
a fatal error by summoning his Dalmatian Commander-in- 
chief, Orestes, to govern Gaul. This Orestes was an Illyrian 
adventurer who had at one time been secretary to Attila the 
Hun. It can never have been a satisfactory reference. But 
he had established himself in the Roman order by marrying a 
patrician’s daughter, and he was able to turn on his master and 
declare his own son Romulus Emperor. 

Julius the Nephew went back to Aspalaton and there lived 
for five years. Meanwhile Orestes was murdered by a barbarian 
general, Odoacer, who formed a curious plan of supporting the 
cause of Romulus, whose youth and beauty he much admired, 
and acting as the power behind the throne. In 480 two Dal- 
matian counts, Victor and Ovida, one a Romanised Illyrian 
and the other a barbarian, made their way into Diocletian’s 
Palace and treacherously killed Julius. He was the last legiti- 
mately elected Emperor of the West. His assassins had been 
moved by the hope of pleasing Odoacer ; the barbarian Ovida 
wished to make himself King of Dalmatia, and he needed 
imperial support. But Odoacer was as hostile to regional rulers 
as the other murderer Ricimer, and at the end of a punitive war 
on Dalmatia he killed Ovida with his own hand. Later he him- 
self was killed by Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, who after 
signing a treaty with him invited him to a banquet and then ran 
him through with a sword, and massacred all his men. Murder. 
Murder. Murder. Murder. 

It was about this time that the sarcophagus of Diocletian 
disappeared. For about a hundred and seventy years it was 
visible, firmly planted in the middle of the mausoleum, described 
by intelligent visitors. Then it suddenly is not there any more. 
It is suggested that a party of revengeful Christians threw it into 
the sea ; but that is an action comprehensible only in a smoulder- 
ing minority, and Christianity had been the official religion of 
the Roman Empire since the time of the Emperor’s death. Nor 
can it be supposed that the sarcophagus was destroyed by the 
Avar invaders, for they did not reach the coast until a couple 


of centuries later. Probably the occasion of its disappearance 
was far less dramatic. The everyday routine of life persisted in 
Aspalaton, however many barbarians committed murder ; in 
the textile factory the shuttles crossed and recrossed the loom. 
Without doubt it continued to be necessary that Diocletian’s 
mausoleum should be cleaned and repaired, and it may well 
have happened that one day the owner of a yard near by said, 
“Yes, you can put it down there ”, watching reverently, and 
wondering that he should be the guardian of such a holy thing. 
It may be also that the workmen who laid it down did not come 
back, that there was a threat to the city from land or sea which 
called them and the authorities who employed them and the 
owner of the yard himself to the defence. Soon it might be that 
people would say of the sarcophagus, “ I wonder when they 
will come and take it back ’’ ; but continued unrest may have 
made it advisable that the treasures of the temples should be 
kept dispersed. Later it might be that a break in a chain 
of family confidences, due to violent death or flight or 
even sudden natural death, would leave the sarcophagus un- 
identified and only vaguely important. Some day a woman 
would say of it, “ I really do not know what that is. It is just 
something that has always been here ; and it is full of old 
things.” She spoke the truth. It was full of old things : the 
bones of Diocletian the man, the robes of Diocletian the Em- 
peror, the idea of a world order imposed on the peoples by 
superior people, who were assumed to know because they could 
act. Aspalaton, the palace of the great Restorer of the Earth, 
had passed away. It had become Split, a city lived in by 
common people, who could establish order within the limits of 
a kitchen or a workshop or a textile factory, but had been 
monstrously hindered in the exercise of that capacity by the 
efforts of the superior people who establish world order. 

I have no doubt that one day Diocletian’s sarcophagus will 
turn up in the cellars of some old and absent-minded family of 
Split ; and in the cellars of the Dalmatian mind, the foundation 
on which its present philosophy is built, the old Emperor is to 
be found also. We in England have an unhistoric attitude to 
our lives, because every generation has felt excitement over a 
clear-cut historical novelty, which has given it enough to tell its 
children and grandchildren without drawing on its father’s and 
grandfather’s tales. In all these impressive events the central 


government has played a part which was, at any rate, not 
tragically disgraceful, at least so far as our own country is 
concerned, and was often very creditable. We think of the 
national organisation that controls the public services through- 
out the country as ambitious on the whole to give the common 
man every opportunity to exercise his ability for keeping order 
in his own sphere. 

It would not be so, however, if the last clear-cut event in 
English history had been the departure of the Roman legionaries 
in 420 ; and if there had followed a period of internal disorder 
which the battle of Hastings had perpetuated to our own day, 
by inaugurating a series of attempts at invasion and settlement 
by imperialistic Continental powers. Then the idea of the state 
would seem to us like wine, a delight that must be enjoyed 
only in moderation lest it lead to drunkenness and violence, 
uproar and want. We would know that some degree of national 
organisation is necessary, and that dominance is the most 
exquisite of luxuries, but we would think of kings and states- 
men as mischief-makers whose failure drove us from time to 
time out of our houses into ditches, to feed on roots and berries. 
The difference in our attitude can be computed if we try to 
imagine what our reaction to the word “ queen " would be if 
we had had no Victoria or Elizabeth, or even Anne, and that 
Boadicea had had a determining effect on English history. 

So it is with the Splitchani, and indeed with all Dalmatians. 
They are aware of Diocletian’s failure to restore the earth, and 
what it cost them. Therefore their instinct is to brace them- 
selves against any central authority as if it were their enemy. 
The angry young men run about shouting. But they have 
Illyrian blood as well as Slav ; they are of the same race that 
produced Diocletian and the other restitutores orbis. They are 
profoundly sensitive to the temptation of power. Therefore 
they cannot break their preoccupation with the central authority. 
The young men cannot sit down and get angry about something 
else. The stranger will be vastly mistaken if he regards this 
attitude as petulant barbarism. It is an extremely sensible 
reaction to his experience, and it has helped him to protect his 
rights under the rule of empires which were indifferent or hostile 
to him. It might yet be of enormous service to humanity if the 
world were threatened by an evil domination. 



Split II 

Diocletian’s mausoleum was transformed into a cathedral 
during the eighth century. It is still obviously a pagan edifice, 
though the Christians fitted it in the thirteenth century with a 
good bell-tower, and with fine carved doors that show twenty- 
eight scenes from the life of Christ, and have gone on filling it 
with pious objects till it has something of a box-room air. There 
is a superb pulpit of the same date as the tower and the doors, 
splendid with winged beasts, and two good fifteenth-century 
tombs, one showing a Flagellation of Christ, the work of 
George the Dalmatian, who is alluded to as Georgio Orsini by 
those who want to show this coast as a Slav wilderness redeemed 
by Venetian culture, with no other justification than that a son 
or nephew of his called himself by that name. One can look at 
nothing in Dalmatia, not even a Flagellation of Christ, without 
being driven back to the struggle of Slav nationalism. The 
history of the Cathedral is dominated by it ; here was the centre 
of the movement, which has been for the most part successful, 
for the use of the Slav liturgy. 

There were, however, two ecclesiastics of Split, who were 
of importance to the rest of the world. There was the Arch- 
deacon Thomas of Spalato, in the thirteenth century, who wrote 
an excellent history of his own times and was the only con- 
temporary foreigner known to have seen St. Francis of Assisi, 
and heard him preach ; and there was the seventeenth-century 
Archbishop Mark Antony de Dominis, who was typically Slav 
in being at once an intellectual and incredibly naive. He came 
from the city of Rab, from one of its exquisite Gothic palaces. 
Though he was an Archbishop, and added to the mausoleum its 
present choir, his main interest lay in scientific studies ; and he 
hit on the discovery of the solar spectrum one day while he was 
saying mass, more than half a century before Newton. Much 
of Descartes’ work is founded on his, and Goethe writes of him 
in his book on the theory of colour. Unfortunately he became 
interested in matters of religion, which was a fatal mistake for a 
Renaissance prelate of his kind. Soon he became convinced 
of the truth of Protestantism, and through the influence of his 
friend. Sir Henry Wotton, the author of “ You meaner beauties 
of the night ”, who was then the English Ambassador to Venice, 



he was appointed Dean of Windsor and Master of the Savoy 
and vicar of West Ilsley, up on the Berkshire downs. He then 
published a tremendous attack on the Roman Catholic Church 
under the title of De reptiblica ecclesiasHca. But doubts vexed 
him, and he came to the conclusion that he was wrong. In 
touching abandonment to the Slav belief that people are not 
really unreasonable, he went to Rome to talk about it to the 
Pope. That Pope died, and was succeeded by one less tolerant. 
Dominis was thrown into the Castle of Saint Angelo and died 
in its dungeons. Later the Inquisition tried him for heresy and 
found him guilty, so dug up his corpse and burned it together 
with his writings. 

But though the religious life of Split is obscured by its 
nationalism in the historical annals, we must remember that much 
of human activity goes unrecorded. There is great piety among 
the Splitchani. We noted it that night when the Professor 
came to dine with us. The Professor is a great Latinist, and 
was the pupil, assistant and close friend of Bulitch, the famous 
scholar who spent his life working on the antiquities of Split 
and Salonae. He is in his late sixties, but has the charm of 
extreme youth, for he comes to a pleasure and hails it happily 
for what it is without any bitterness accumulated from past 
disappointments, and he believes that any moment the whole 
process of life may make a slight switch-over and that every- 
thing will be agreeable for ever. His manners would satisfy 
the standards of any capital in the world, but at the same time 
he is exquisitely, pungently local. " Thank you, I will have no 
lobster," he said to us. " I am sure it is excellent, but, like 
many of my kind, who have had to renounce robust health along 
with the life of action, I have a weak digestion.” He then 
emptied his pepper-pot into his soup till its surface became 
completely black. “ See,” he said, " how carefully I eat. I 
never neglect to take plenty of pepper, since it is excellent for 
the health. What, did you not know that ? But I assure you, 
one can hardly live long unless one eats a great deal of pepper.” 
I was enchanted ; the Abb^ Fortis, who made a tour of the 
coast in the eighteenth century, expressed . amazement at the 
enormous quantities of pepper eaten by the Dalmatians, and their 
faith in it as a medicament. 

Being so much a child of his country, he had of course to 
speak of nationalism, and indeed what he said brought home 


to me more than anything else the extreme unsuitability, the 
irksomeness of the last subjection which the Dalmatians had 
had to yield to an external authority. Here was a man who was 
the exact Adriatic equivalent of an Oxford don ; he would by 
nature have found all his satisfaction in the pursuit of learning. 
But from his youth and through all his adult years he had been 
an active member of a party that existed to organise revolt 
against the Austrian Government ; and there was none of his 
large and respectable family who had not been as deeply engaged 
in rebellion as himself. “ One of my brothers,” he told us, " was 
very well known as a Dalmatian patriot, for he had trouble that 
was reported in the newspapers all over Europe. For he was a 
priest, and the Austrians expelled him from Dalmatia though 
he had a parish. Still he did not suffer very much from that, 
for the great Bishop Strossmayer took him under his protection 
and gave him a parish near Zagreb. 

” How fortunate for me all that trouble was I ” he exclaimed, 
beaming. " For when I was going to the University at Vienna 
to make my studies Bishop Strossmayer invited me to see him. 
And that is the most wonderful thing that happened to me in 
my whole life. It was a very long time ago, for I was then only 
nineteen years old, but I have forgotten nothing of it. The room 
seemed bright as an altar at Easter when I went in, but that 
was not so much because of the chandeliers, which were indeed 
superb, but because of the company. There was Bishop Stross- 
mayer himself, who was amazing in his handsomeness and 
elegance, and also there were at least twenty other people, who 
were all notable, great aristocrats of our race, or scholars, or 
artists, or foreigners of eminence, or women of superb beauty 
and great distinction. It is well known that Bishop Strossmayer 
was deeply respectful to the beauty of women, as to all the 
beauties of creation. 

" But do not think that this was a mere worldly dinner- 
party. The great man imposed on it his own superiority. First 
we stood at the table, and he himself said grace in his exquisite 
Latin, which was Latin as no one else has spoken it, as the 
angels may speak it. Then we sat down, and as we ate a young 
priest read us a passage from the Gospel of St. John, and then a 
fable from Aesop. Then the Bishop started the conversation, 
which, though the party was so large, was nevertheless general 
and brilliant beyond imagination. It was his own doing, of 


course, yet it did not seem so. It all appeared to happen quite 
naturally. It was as if the birds in a wood should start singing 
and their notes should combine to form utterances of a wisdom 
unsurpassed by the philosophers. Alas I It is terrible that 
such a perfect thing should have been, and should be no longer. 
I suppose all the people who were there are dead, except some 
of the women ; for I was much the youngest man there. But 
that feeling over what is gone the ancients knew well, and 
expressed better than we can.” He murmured scraps of Latin 
verse. It was very characteristically Slav that he said nothing 
of having been troubled by social embarrassment at this dinner- 
party. In any other country, a boy of twenty, not rich, from a 
provincial town, would have felt timid at a dinner-party given 
in a capital by one of the most famous men of the time. But 
Serbs and Croats alike are an intensely democratic people. 
There are few class distinctions, and Split, being a free and 
ancient city, would not feel inferior to Zagreb, for all its size 
and comparative wealth. Nevertheless, perhaps Bishop Stross- 
mayer had his part in the boy’s ease. 

“ I speak foolishly,” said the Professor, when he started to 
talk again, ” if I imply that the Bishop Strossmayer was an 
inspiration to me, for, to tell the truth, I have never been inspired. 
I have committed no great action, nor have I needed to. For 
the Austrian Government never persecuted us in the grand 
manner, it never called on us to be heroes, it merely pricked us 
with pins, and all we had to do was to be gentlemen and philo- 
sophers. My worst time was during the war, and that was not 
so bad.” It appeared that as soon as Austria declared war on 
Serbia all the men in Split who had shown signs of hostility 
to the Austrian Government, which is to say all proihinent or 
even respectable citizens, were arrested and sent on tour through 
Austria and Hungary to be shown off publicly as Serbian 
prisoners of war. “ I who know German as my own tongue,” 
said the Professor, " had to stand there while they described 
me as an Orthodox priest — that was because of my beard. 
Certain circumstances concerning that imprisonment were 
indeed very disagreeable. But let us not remember that, but 
the good things the war brought us. It brought us our freedom 
and it brought us many friends. Yes, many English friends. 
For many English sailors and soldiers came here after the war, 
and We liked them very much. I suppose you do not know 


Admiral William Fisher ? ” " No,” said my husband, " but I 
know his brother, H. A. L. Fisher, the Warden of New College, 
who is a great historian and one of the most charming people 
in the world.” “ So is this man ! So is this man ! ” cried the 
Professor. "He came here with the Fleet several times, and I 
grew to love him like a brother. I tell you, he is like a hero of 
old I ” 

His eyes were glowing. Here, as in Serbia, there is very 
little effeminacy, and no man puts himself under suspicion by 
praising another ; so one is sometimes aware of a strong current 
of love running from man to man, from comrade to comrade, 
from hero to hero. The Professor spoke long of Admiral 
Fisher, of his solid qualities, his wisdom and patience, and of 
his lovely lightnesses, his capacity for a gay Homeric cunning, 
and his tremendous laughter. “ Ah I ” he sighed at last. " I 
have spoken so much of my friend, that without noticing it I 
have drunk a great deal of red wine. This will not be healthy, 
unless I drink a lot of black coffee. Is this coffee strong P ” 
" I am afraid it is,” I said, " terribly strong.” " Why are you 
afraid ? ” asked the Professor. " The stronger it is the healthier 
it is. Did you not know that ? ” 

After the Professor and my husband had talked for a while 
of their favourite editions of the classics they fell silent ; and I 
said, ” I have asked Philip Thompson to come in afterwards. 
He could not come to dinner as he had a lesson, but he is coming 
in at ten. I hope you will like him ? ” “I have not met him,” 
said the Professor, “ but I know him by sight, and I am sure 
I will like him.” “ Yes, he has a charming, sensitive appear- 
ance,” I said. " It is not that I mean,” said the Professor. 
" I am sure I will like him because he is a very pious Catholic. 
I have noticed that he is most pious in his observances, and 
during Lent I have gone into my church several times and found 
him praying like a little child.” And when Philip Thompson 
came in he greeted him with a special confidential and yet 
reticent friendliness, as if he knew they had in common certain 
experiences which, however, cannot be shared. 

To start the conversation we talked of what we meant to do 
in Split before we set off southwards down the coast. “ You 
really must go up to the park on Mount Marian, that hill below 
the town,” said Philip ; “ it is most beautiful up there among 
the pines, looking over the sea and the islands.” “ Yes, indeed," 


I said. " I was there last year, and I want to go again. It 
interested me to see that in Robot Ad2un’5 drawings there isn’t 
a tree on the hill, it is just bare rock. I suppose the Austrians 
planted it." " They did not 1 " cried the Professor, leaping 
from his chair. " And shall I tell you who did ? I myself, I did 
it. I found in the archives uncontestable proof that there were 
once trees on that hill, which were cut down to make Venetian 
galleys. So I formed the idea that there could be trees there 
again, and I started a society to do it. Many people thought 
it was madness and my poor wife received anonymous letters 
saying that I should be put into a lunatic asylum. But I col- 
lected the money, and, believe me, it was Dalmatians who gave 
it. No, the Austrians did nothing for us, nor the Venetians 
either. We took the Venetian style of architecture, that is all ; 
and I should not even say that if 1 were striving to be accurate. 
It would be more truthful to say that the Venetians and the 
Dalmatians both drew from the same sources inspiration to- 
wards a new movement. . . .” 

We were back again at Slav nationalism ; but we left it for 
that permanent and mystical preoccupation which lies deeper 
in the Dalmatian mind. " I do not think that the Venetians 
have left any permanent mark on the life of the people," said 
the Professor, " except perhaps the Venetian habit of blas- 
phemy. Do you not find it dreadful, Mr. Thompson, the oaths 
that one must hear as one walks in the streets of Split ? ” “I 
find it most terrible," said Philip ; " they use the holy names 
in a way that makes one clap one’s hands over one’s ears." 
They shook their heads gravely ; and 1 saw the unusual spectacle 
of a foreigner bom to the Catholic faith matching in fervour an 
English convert. In the Professor I recognised the same Slavic 
religious passion that had made dark and glowing the voices 
of the men and women singing mass at Shestine ; but it seemed 
to me that in him it was not only sweetened by the great sweet- 
ness of his personality, but also that it was given a special in- 
tensity by the long dolorous life of his town, and its reflections 
upon its tragedy, its refusal to take the sorrow and waste of it 
at their face value. 

It is not to be doubted, as one goes about Split, that this 
walled city has such a life, far more concentrated than the life 
of our difiuse Western towns ; and that it has been engaged 
in a continuous effort to find a noble interpretation of its experi- 

i 64 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

ence through piety. The Professor took us the next morning 
to the Golden Gate of the palace, which is most recognisably 
what it was in the days of Diocletian, a very handsome, creeper- 
hung matter of niches and pillarets and a narrow door, which 
modern times have pierced with an unending thread of neat and 
supple Splitchani hurrying down to the harbour. Near this 
Gate we climbed a stairway, and a door was opened by a nun, 
who led us up more stairs into a little church built in the thick- 
ness of the palace walls. It is about eleven hundred years old, 
and though it is defaced by hideous bondieuseries of the modem 
Roman Catholic Church, it remains infinitely touching because 
of its slender stone screen, because of the carvings on that screen 
which write in shapes as fresh as dew the faith of a people that 
they have found a beneficent magic to banish the horrors of life. 
Beside us the nun spoke on and on to the Professor, her voice 
stilled with amazement, in words that also were as fresh as dew. 
She was telling him that the Mother Superior of that tiny order 
which guards this Church of St. Martin was growing very old 
and very sick, but was showing great fortitude. Though she 
spoke calmly she took nothing for granted ; this might have 
been the first time that pain and fortitude had shown themselves 
on earth. She was among those who will not suffer any event 
merely to happen, who must examine it with all the force of the 
soul and trace its consequences, and seek, against all prob- 
ability, an explanation of the universe that is as kind as human 

We went, later in the morning, to another church, built in 
honour of the Virgin Mary actually within one of the gates, over 
an archway. It is not specially interesting ; one has seen its like 
all over Southern Europe, grey and pliant in its line, a gentle 
boast that if one has but faith it needs no more than the strength 
of a lily to withstand life. This, like many of the smaller churches 
in the Dalmatian towns, belongs to a Confraternity ; about 
twenty townsmen sustained it, used it as the centre of their 
devotions and the means of their charity, and there married 
their wives and christened their children and were buried. It 
was shown to us by one of this Confraternity, a plasterer, who 
had left his work to do the Professor this courtesy. Wearing 
his working clothes, which were streaked with white plaster, 
he stood still and stiff like a page in a more than royal household, 
showing, subjects the throne-room, the plain transmitter of a 



tradition which we had recognised earlier that day. 

We had recognised it in the Temple of Aesculapius, which 
lies on the other side of the courtyard from Diocletian’s mauso- 
leum and is now the baptistery. This change would not have 
surprised Diocletian, for the last glimpse that we have of his 
personal life is his irritation at the refusal of his Christian stone- 
masons to make him a statue of Aesculapius. There we saw 
a tenth-century stone slab, roughly carved, which is said by 
some to represent the adoration of Christ and by others the 
homage paid to a Croatian king by his subjects. It does not 
matter which it is. What is important is that the sculptor, 
wishing to depict magnificence, whether earthly or super- 
natural, saw it in Byzantine terms. After the Western Roman 
Empire had collapsed Dalmatia had thirty years of dangerous 
independence and then fell under the Eastern Empire, under 
Byzantium. That empire was a real fusion of Church and 
State ; the Emperor was given absolute power over his subjects 
only because he professed absolute subjection to God, and the 
ceremonial of his court was a religious ritual. That slab exists 
to show that this conception of government by holy ballet 
deeply impressed the imagination of the governed people, even 
on its furthermost frontiers. 

The devout grace of the workman, which, though it had an 
instinctive basis, had been borne as far from that by art and 
discipline as the Gutirds have been removed in their drill from 
the primitive emotion of ferocity, proved that the Byzantine 
tradition had made other signs of vitality than mere diffusion. 
This man was a Slav. The fair hair, the high cheek-bones, the 
sea-blue eyes showed it. Byzantium had struck new roots in the 
race that had come into the Balkans from the mid-Russian 
plains as pure barbarians, untouched by anything that had 
happened during the first centuries of the Christian era, and 
apparently as inaccessible to Christian influence as any race on 
earth. Without pity, they killed and tortured ; without purpose, 
they burned and laid waste. They came down to the Dalmatian 
coast on a mission of ruin, in the company of the Huns and 
Avars. But it happened that the Huns and the Avars turned on 
and reduced them to slaves, and they rose in revolt. Angry 
young men ran about shouting. They were heard by the Byzan- 
tine Emperor Heraclius, who promised that if they drove the 
Huns and Avars out of Illyria they might settle the land as 




vassals of the empire. He imposed a further condition that 
they must adopt Christianity. Who could have foretold that 
out of this marriage of convenience between the Slav people 
and the Church would flower a great passion ? Who could have 
foretold that a horde of murderers and marauders would be also 
addicts to spiritual pursuits and the use of the intellect, believers 
in magic and the existence of a reality behind appearances, 
who would perform any ritual and carry on any argument that 
promised a revelation of the truth ? History sometimes acts as 
madly as heredity, and her most unpredictable performances are 
often her most glorious. 


This was the grimmest Easter ; and when the Professor took 
us up to the remains of the great Roman city, Salonae, which 
should be one of the prettiest sights in the whole world, it was 
nothing of the sort. Its pillars and steps and sarcophagi lie 
among rich grass and many flowers under the high olive 
terraces, overlooking the sea and its many islands, the very 
spot which Horace would have liked to visit with a footman 
carrying a lunch basket behind him. It is one of the dishar- 
monies of history that there is nothing that a Roman poet 
would have enjoyed more than a Roman ruin, with its obvious 
picturesqueness and the cue it gives for moralising. But we 
could not enjoy it at all, for sharp rain scratched our faces all 
the four miles we drove from Split, and at Salonae it grew 
brutal, and we were forced into a little house, all maps and 
inscriptions, built by the great Bulitch to live in while he was 
superintending the diggings, and since his death converted 
into a museum. 

We were not alone. The house was packed with little girls, 
aged from twelve to sixteen, in the care of two or three nuns. 
They were, like any gathering of their kind in any part of the 
world, more comfortable to look at than an English girls’ school. 
They were apparently waiting quite calmly to grow up. They 
expected it, and so did the people looking after them. There 
was no panic on anybody’s part. There were none of the un- 
happy results which follow the English attempt to make all 
children look insipid and docile, and show no signs whatsoever 
that they will ever develop into adults. There were no little 



girls with poked chins and straight hair, aggressively proud of 
being plain, nor were there pretty girls making a desperate pre- 
cocious proclamation of their femininity. But, of course, in a 
country where there is very little homosexuality it is easy for 
girls to grow up into womanhood. 

Still, I wondered what the little dears were learning up at 
Salonae. I suspected that they were receiving an education 
with a masculine bias. Indeed, I knew it, for they were being 
educated by nuns, who are women who have accepted the 
masculine view of themselves and the universe, who show it 
by being the only members of their sex who go into fancy dress 
and wear uniforms as men love to do. I feared that in this 
particular background they might be instilling into their charges 
some monstrous male rubbish. It was even possible that they 
were teaching them the same sort of stuff about the Romans 
which I learned when I was at school : panegyrics of dubious 
moral value, unsupported by evidence. There is, Heaven knows, 
enough to be said in their favour without any sacrifice of honesty. 
I can bear witness to it. I was at school in Scotland, and 
therefore, owing to the strange dispensations of that country 
in regard to the female, learned Latin and no Greek, a silly, 
lopsided way of being educated. But even for this one-eyed 
stance on the classics I am grateful, though I was slow-witted 
at learning that and all other languages, and have forgotten 
most of what I knew. It gave me the power to find my way 
about the Romance languages ; it gave me a sense of the past, 
a realisation that social institutions such as the law do not 
happen but are made ; it gave, and gives, me considerable 
literary rapture. I like a crib, indeed some might say that 
I need a crib ; but once I have it I enjoy my Latin verse 
enormously. To this day I am excited as I read that neatest 
possible expression of the wildest possible grief — 

Floribus Austrum 

Ferditus et liquidis immisi fontibus apros. 

It also seems to me that the modem mind cannot be fully 
understood until one has gone back to Latin literature and seen 
what European culture was like before it was injected with the 
ideas of St. Augustine. 

But I regret that to give me this pleasure and information 
my teachers should have found it necessary to instruct me. 


with far more emphasis than was justified by the facts in their 
or anybody else's possession, that the Roknan Empire was a 
vast civilising force which spread material and moral well-being 
all over the ancient world by its rule. I was taught that this 
was no mere accident : that the power to extend their rule by 
military means sprang from an intellectual and moral genius 
that made them able to lay down the best way of living for the 
races they subdued. I find these assumptions firmly embedded 
in the mass of literature written by people who received a 
classical education, especially if it had the same Latin bias as 
mine, and expressed even more passionately in literature 
written by people who have not had any education at all. Every 
year I grow more critical of them. We have no real evidence 
that the peoples on which the Roman Empire imposed its 
civilisation had not pretty good civilisations of their own, better 
adapted to local conditions. The Romans said they had not ; 
but posterity might doubt the existence of our contemporary 
French and English cultures if the Nazis destroyed all records 
of them. We may at least suspect from the geniuses of African 
stock who appear within the Roman Empire, that when Rome 
destroyed Carthage, dragging the plough three times through 
the land, she destroyed her equal or even her superior. The 
great work by Monsieur Camille Julian on the History of Gaul 
suggests that when Rome came to France she frustrated the 
development of a civilisation of the first order ; and Strzygowski 
doubts whether she did not bring disorganisation to the Germanic 
tribes. It appears probable from the researches of the last 
few years, which have discovered codes of law, far from rudi- 
mentary, among all the contemporaries of the Romans, even 
to the nomads, that they might have got on with their social 
institutions very satisfactorily if they had not been obliged to 
fight against the external efforts at their betterment. And it 
seems very probable that Rome was able to conquer foreign 
territories because she had developed her military genius at the 
expense of precisely those qualities which would have made 
her able to rule them. Certainly she lacked them to such an 
extent that she was unable to work out a satisfactory political 
and economic policy for Rome itself and perished of that 

I am sure of it, those little girls were being taught that they 
should be proud because Split was the heir to a Roman city. 



Yet neither I nor anybody else knows whether or not the con- 
quest of Illyria by the Romans was not a major disaster, the 
very contrary to an extension of civilisation. Ill}rria had its 
past. It was linked with Greek history, and had a double tie 
with Macedonia of alternate enmity and alliance. Alexander 
the Great had Illyrian princesses for his mother and grand- 
mother, and he and his father both fought great campaigns 
against their country. In the Roman period we know little 
about Illyria save from Roman sources, but even they suggest 
a considerable culture. They had an extremely able and heroic 
queen, Teiita, who was not the sort of monarch that can be 
raised from a tribe in skins ; and while she and her subjects 
are accused of piracy, examination proves this a reference to 
efforts, which history would regard as creditable if they had been 
undertaken by the Romans, to conquer the Adriatic archi- 
pelago. It is also brought up against Teiita that she murdered 
two of three Roman ambassadors who were sent to accuse her 
people of unmannerly ways at sea. But it is said that these 
were murdered by brigands outside the Illyrian frontiers ; and 
some heed had better be given to Polybius, a Roman of the 
Romans, when he explains why the Senate once made war 
on the Illyrians : 

Since the Romans had expelled Demetrios of Pharos from Illyria 
they had completely neglected the Adriatic seaboard ; and on another 
hand the Senate wished to avoid at all costs that the Italians became 
effeminate during a longstanding peace because it was more than 
eleven years since the Persian war and the Macedonian Expedition 
had ended. In undertaking a campaign against the Dalmatians they 
would reawaken the fighting spirit of the people at the same time that 
they would give the Illyrians a lesson and would force them to submit 
to the domination of Rome. Such were the reasons why Rome 
declared war on the Dalmatians ; but the excuse which was given 
to the other nations was the insolence with which they had treated the 

Little girls of Salonae, try to work out this sum on your 
fingers. It took Rome two hundred and fifty years of war to 
bring peace to the Illyrians. Then they had fifty years or so 
of disturbance, and a hundred years of peace, which I cannot 
but think they could have procured for themselves, since they 
had then to take over the government of Rome and provide the 
long line of Illyrian emperors. They were then precipitated into 


an abyss of unrest anjJ catastrophe, of which the worst feature, 
the barbarian invasions, owed its horror largely to Roman 
expansion. If Italy had been content with heiself as a unit and 
had developed on a solid economic basis, and if Ill)Tia had been 
allowed to look after her own affairs, they might have put up a 
far more effective resistance to the invaders. No, the sum do^ 
not work out. Remember, when the nuns tell you to bewail 
of the deceptions of men who make love to you, that the mind 
of man is on the whole less tortuous when he is love-making 
than at any other time. It is when he speaks of governments 
and armies that he utters strange and dangerous nonsense to 
please the bats at the back of his soul. This is all to your dis- 
advantage, for in love-making you might meet him with lies of 
equal force, but there are few repartees that the female governed 
can make to the male governors. 

Nevertheless, it was sweet for all of us, nuns and the little 
dears, the Professor and my husband and me, to go out when the 
rain had stopped and walk among the Roman ruins of Salonae. 
Grey and silver were the olive-leaves shining in the timid sun- 
light, dark grey the wet ruins, silver-grey the tall spiked aloes 
and blacker than green the cypresses, black the mountains be- 
hind us, silver the sea that lay before us, and grey the islands 
that streaked it ; and at our feet storm-battered flowers looked 
like scraps of magenta paper. The Professor was gay, as birds 
are after rain. He read us inscriptions, lending them a sweet- 
ness that was not in their meaning from the enjoyment of 
Latinism which had been mellowing in his soul since his youth, 
and guiding us to the stony stubs and plinths and stairways of 
temples, baths, churches, the city walls, the city gate, that had 
been battered less by time than by wars. Again and again the 
place had been taken and retaken by the Goths and the Huns 
before the Avars finally smashed it in 639. It is for this reason 
that the churches in this city have the majesty of a famous battle- 
field. Here Christianity's austere message that it is better not 
to be a barbarian, even if victory lies with barbarism, was tested 
in the actual moment of impact with barbarians, in face of a 
complete certainty that victory was to be with barbarism. In 
the baptistery of the cathedral the chamber round the font still 
stands. There can still be seen the steps down which the naked 
men, glistening with the holy oil and reeling with the three days’ 
fast, descended to the holy waters, to be immersed in them three 



times and lifted out, glorious in the belief that the death that 
was closing in on them was magically changed to joy and salva- 
tion. From the most coldly rationalist point of view it must be 
pronounced that they were not mistaken. Complete victory was 
given here to the barbarians ; on this spot they followed their 
nature in all its purity of destructiveness, its zeal of cruelty. 
But the gentle virtue of the Professor, the dedicated fineness of 
the plasterer in the Confraternity chapel, showed that the stock 
of the christened men lived still and had not been brutalised. 

It was right that the nuns should be trailing the little dears 
round the site of this miracle of which they formed a part. But I 
passed one of the nuns and remarked as I had done before, that 
the rank and file of the female religious order present an un- 
pleasing appearance because they have assumed the expression 
of credulity natural and inevitable to men, who find it difficult 
to live without the help of philosophical systems which far outrun 
ascertained facts, but wholly unsuitable to women, who are born 
with a faith in the unrevealed mystery of life and can therefore 
afford to be sceptics. I feared very much that the nuns’ charges 
would be fed a deal of nonsense along with the bread of 
truth. They would be taught, for example, to honour those 
claims of the Church which reflect no reality and spring from 
certain masculine obsessions of its ecclesiastics : such as its 
pretension to be unchanging, to have attained in its first years 
a wisdom about all matters, eternal and temporal, of which it 
has made a progressive disclosure, never contradicting itself. 
We are, of course, at liberty to imagine that the Church would 
be a nobler institution if it knew no alteration ; even so it does 
no harm if we dream that we could all be much happier if our 
bodies remained for ever young and fair. But these are day- 
dreams and nothing else, for the Church changes, and we grow 
old. There was evidence of it, written here on the wet grey 

" Look,” said the Professor, “ this is one of our most in- 
teresting tombs, which is also very touching.” Here a husband 
had laid to rest his beloved wife ; and in the inscription he 
boasted that he had brought her to his home when she was 
eighteen and had lived beside her in chastity for thirty-three 
years. His very grief itself must have been made serene by his 
consciousness that by their abstinence they had followed the 
approved Christian course. These were the days when Theodore 


the Conscript vras enraged against paganism because Juno had 
twelve children. To some this multiplication of divinities might 
seem as beautiful as the birth of a new constellation, but this 
Christian it made cry shame on “ a goddess who littered like a 
sow ” ; and he died for his opinion, frustrating the intended 
moderation of the authorities by firing her temple. About 
this time St. Jerome declared that he valued marriage only 
because it produced virgins, and advised a widow against re- 
marriage in terms which remind us that he was Dalmatian, 
and that the inhabitants of this coast have never been noted for 
understatement. " The trials of marriage,” he told the Lady 
Furia, " you have learned in the married state ; you have been 
surfeited to nausea as though with the flesh of quails. Your 
mouth has tasted the bitterest of gall, you have voided the sour 
unwholesome food, you have relieved a heaving stomach. Why 
would you put into it again something which has already proved 
harmful to you. The dog is turned to his own vomit again and 
the washed sow to her wallowing in the mire.” This married 
pair of Salonae, eager for salvation, must have believed that they 
could not be denied some measure of it, since they had allowed 
themselves to be groomed in barrenness by the Church. 

They would have felt amazement had they known that, some 
few centuries later, the Church would have persecuted them, even 
to death, for such wedded chastity. For over this coast there 
was to spread from the hinterland of the Balkan Peninsula the 
Puritan heresy know as Paulicianism or Patarenism or Bogo- 
milism or Catharism, knowing certain local and temporal varia- 
tions under these names, but ail impassioned over the necessity 
of disentangling the human spirit from the evilness of matter 
and convinced that this was immensely facilitated by the practice 
of virginity. It had the advantage of appealing to that love of 
the disagreeable which is one of the most unpleasant charac- 
teristics of humanity, and it became a serious rival to the ortho- 
dox churches, who attacked it not only by reason but by Are 
and sword. Since it laid such emphasis on virginity, the 
ecclesiastical authorities came down like wolves on any married 
pairs whom gossip reported as not availing themselves of their 
marital privileges. So far was this recognised as a test that a 
man accused of heresy is said to have brought forward as proof 
of his orthodoxy that he drank wine and ate meat and swore 
and lay with his wife. Therefore this couple of Salonae, had 



they practised this wedded chastity on the same spot five or six 
hundred years later, would not have been granted thirty-three 
years to do it in. They would have had a fate quite indistinguish- 
able from that of the Christian martyrs whom they revered, but 
they would have ranked as pagans or lower. Yet even that 
change in the Church’s attitude they might have felt as less con- 
founding than the later change, which would have regarded it 
as a matter of indifference whether they lived in abstinence or not, 
provided that they did not prevent the begetting of children in 
any intercourse they might have. That yawn in the face of their 
thirty-three years might have seemed worse than martyrdom. 

It might have been sad to watch the little dears in their blue 
coats and straw hats being inducted into male superstition 
among the sarcophagi on a dampish day ; but the Professor 
took us to a tomb that gave reason for hope that they would 
suffer no harm, being protected by their own female nature. 
The Latin of the inscription was so bad that it must have been 
erected at a time when the ancient world was suffering its last 
agony. In that hour, when the earth trembled and the columns 
were falling, a good creature set up this stone in honour of her 
departed husband. He was so strong, she said, that she had 
twins some months after he had died, and she had loved him 
very much. Finally with a tremendous gesture she put out her 
arm and drew together two conceptions of the universe to shield 
him from all dangers, and commended him to the mercy of 
both Jesus Christ and the Parcae. She did what she could 
before the darkness came, acting out of sound sense and good 
feeling, though with a tendency to idealise virility ; and we 
may suppose that the little dears would do as much, whatever 
they were taught. 


The steamer which makes the hour’s journey from Split to 
Trogir was full of Germans, and I wondered more and more at 
the impossibility of learning the truth. I have been given to 
understand, partly by what I have read and heard, and partly 
by parades I have seen in Germany, that Germans are a race of 
beautiful athletes tense with will, glossy with efficiency, sinister 
with aggressiveness. The German tourists who had surrounded 
us in every hotel and on every steamer since we got to Dalmatia 


were either pear-shaped fat or gangling thin, and in any case 
wore too much flesh packed on the nape of the neck, and were 
diffident, confused, highly incompetent as travellers, and not 
at all unkindly. There was, I suppose, no contradiction here, 
only proof that Germany has been divided into two nations, a 
pampered young pretorian guard and the badgered, under- 
nourished, unregarded others. These were the others. But they 
also were of Hitler’s Germany ; for the steamer dawdled along 
the coast from portlet to portlet, and on each landing-stage there 
were standing a crowd of Dalmatians, tall, lean, upright in 
pride of body. The tourists stared at them and spoke of them 
as if they were odd and dangerous animals. The German 
hatred of the Slav had been revived and reinforced. 

Across a milk-white sea, with two silver hydroplanes soaring 
and dipping to our right and left, we came to the town of 
Trogir, which covers a minute island, lying close to the coast, 
in the lee of a larger island. It is one of those golden-brown 
cities : the colour of rich crumbling shortbread, of butter-scotch, 
of the best pastry, sometimes of good undarkened gravy. It 
stands naked and leggy, for it is a walled city deprived of its 
walls. The Saracens levelled them, and the Venetians and the 
Hungarians would never let them be rebuilt. Now it looks like 
a plant grown in a flower-pot when the pot is broken but the 
earth and roots still hang together. On the quay stand Slavised 
Venetian palaces with haremish lattice-work fixed to screen the 
stone balconies, to show that here West meets East, brought 
thus far by Byzantine influence and perpetuated by the proximity 
of the Turks. Behind them lies a proof that life is often at once 
mad and consistent, in the manner of dreams. Petronius 
Arbiter’s Satyricon lives in the mind long after reading as a 
fevered progression of flights through a cityful of twisting alleys. 
Trogir’s alleys turn and writhe like entrails. It was in Trogir 
that the codex of the Satyricon was found in 1650. It was not 
written there, of course. If it had been there would be nothing 
startling in the resemblance between the work and the town. 
But it came to light here, after centuries of loss. The appro- 
priateness is as exquisite as the colour of the town, as its spires. 

The appropriateness went further still : for Petronius Ar- 
biter was by nature a Puritan, who had he been bom in due 
time would have found himself at home as a Paulician or 
Patarene or Bogomil or Catharist, or in any other of those 



heresies which were based on the Persian faith of Manichaean- 
ism, which held that matter was evil, and sex a particularly evil 
manifestation of it. 

Foeda in coitu et brevis voluptas est 

£t taedet Veneris statim peractae. 

Gross and brief is the pleasure of love-making, he says, and 
consunnmated passion a shocking bore. He goes on to beg his 
beloved therefore that they should not mate like mere cattle, 
but should lie lip to lip and do nothing more, to avoid toil and 
shame. The meaning of this exhortation lies in Trimalchio's 
Supper, which shows Petronius to have been homosexual and 
fearful of impotence with women; and perhaps the same ex- 
planation lay behind most followers of these heresies. But 
he rationalised his motives, and so did Trogir. This was an 
inveterately heretic city. 

In its beginning it was a Greek settlement and later a 
Roman town, and then it was taken over in the dark ages by 
wandering Paulicians. In the twelfth century the town was 
sacked by the Saracens, and the inhabitants were dispersed 
among the villages in the mainland. That, however, did not 
break the tradition of heresy, for when the King of Hungary 
collected them and resettled them on their island they soon 
fell under the influence of Catharism, which was sweeping 
across the Balkan Peninsula from Bulgaria to Bosnia and 
Herzegovina and the coast. This recurrence is naturai enough. 
Manichaeanism — for these heresies might as well be grouped 
together under the name of their parent — represents the 
natural reaction of the earnest mind to a religion that has aged 
and hardened and committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, 
which is to pretend that all is now known, and there can now 
be laid down a system of rules to guarantee salvation. In its 
origin it was a reaction against the extreme fatalism of Zoro- 
astrianism, which held that man’s destiny was decided by the 
stars, and that his only duty was to accomplish it in decorum. 
Passionately Mani created a myth that would show the universe 
as a field for moral effort : inspired by Christianity as it had 
passed through the filter of many Oriental minds and by a 
cosmology invented by an Aramaic astronomer, he imagined 
that there had been in the beginning of time a kingdom of light 
and a kingdom of darkness, existing side by side without any 


commixture, and that these had later been confused, as the 
result of aggression on the part of the deirkness. This was the 
origin of the present world, which Mani very aptly called The 
Smudge. It became the duty of all men who were on the side 
of the light, which was identified with virtue and reason, to 
recover the particles of light that have become imprisoned in 
the substance of darkness, which was identified with vice and 

This is actually an extremely useful conception of life. But 
Manichaeanism was handicapped by the strictly literal mind 
of the founder and his followers, who believed that they were 
not speaking in allegory but were describing the hard material 
facts of the universe. When they spoke of the Signs of the 
Zodiac as dredges bringing up rescued particles of light to 
store them in the sun and moon, they meant quite squarely 
that that is what they thought the constellations were. This 
literalness turned the daily routine of the faithful into a treasure- 
hunt, sometimes of an indecorous nature. Excrement was 
obviously part of the kingdom of darkness, if ever anything 
was. Hence it became the duty of the Manichaean priests, the 
" elect ”, to take large doses of purgatives, not furtively. This 
routine became not only ridiculous but dangerous, as the 
centuries passed and the ingenious medieval European began to 
use it to serve that love of the disagreeable which is our most 
hateful quality. Natural man, uncorrected by education, does 
not love beauty or pleasure or peace ; he does not want to eat 
and drink and be merry ; he is on the whole averse from wine, 
women and song. He prefers to fast, to groan in melancholy, 
and to be sterile. This is easy enough to understand. To feast 
one must form friendships and spend money, to be merry one 
must cultivate fortitude and forbearance and wit, to have a wife 
and children one must assume the heavy obligation of keeping 
them and the still heavier obligation of loving them. All these 
are kinds of generosity, and natural man is mean. His mean- 
ness seized on the Manichaean routine and exploited it till the 
whole of an infatuated Europe seemed likely to adopt it, and 
would doubtless have done so if the Orthodox and Roman 
Catholic Churches had not hardened their hearts against it and 
counted no instrument too merciless for use, not even mass 

It is our tendency to sympathise with the hunted hare. 



but much that we read of Western European heretics makes 
us suspect that here the quarry was less of a hare than a 
priggish skunk. In Languedoc there seems to have been some 
sort of pleasant transmutation of the faith, but for the most 
part heretical Europe presents us with the horrifying spectacle 
of countless human beings gladly facing martyrdom for the 
right to perform cantrips that might have been invented by a 
mad undertaker. There was a particularly horrible travesty of 
Extreme Unction called the' “ Endura ”. Every dying person 
was asked by the priest whether he wanted to be a confessor 
or a martyr ; if he wanted to be a confessor he remained without 
food or drink, except for a little water, for three days, and if he 
wanted to be a martyr a pillow was held over his mouth while 
certain prayers were recited. If he survived in either case he 
ranked as a priest. This horrid piece of idiocy was often used 
as a means of suicide, a practice to which these heretics were 
much addicted ; but as they believed that to suffer torture in 
dying would relieve them from it in the next world, the real 
enthusiasts preferred for this purpose to swallow broken glass. 
The faith also gave encouragement to certain passive methods 
of murder. The guardians of the sick were urged to extinguish 
life when death was near ; and how this worked out may be 
deduced from a case in France where a woman subjected her 
infant grandchild to the Endura and then prevented its mother 
from suckling it till it died. By this necrophily, and a pervasive 
nastiness about sex, which went so far as to forbid a father to 
be touched by his own daughter, even if he were very old and 
she were his nurse, millions were raised to a state of rapture. 
The whole of modern history could be deduced from the 
popularity of this heresy in Western Europe : its inner sourness, 
its preference for hate over love and for war over peace, its 
courage about dying, its cowardice about living. 

This cannot have been the whole truth about these heresies. 
So inherently noble a vision must have produced some nobility, 
its own particles of light cannot all have been dissolved. But 
its achievements were trodden into the dirt by its enemies along 
with its failures ; the Huns and the Avars never made a cleaner 
job of devastation than the orthodox armies who were sent 
against the Albigenses and the Catharists, and the heretics in 
the Balkans were spared such demolition only because of the 
Turkish occupation, which laid waste their institutions just as 


thoroughly for quite other reasons. It happens that here in 
Trogir there is presented a specimen of Manichaean culture. 
In the centre of the town a cathedral stands in a flagged square. 
They began building it in the thirteenth century to replace a 
cathedral, six hundred years old, which had been burned by 
the Saracens, and went on for a couple more centuries. It was 
for long one of the homes of the Patarene heresy. Its con* 
gregation were solidly adepts of the hidden faith, and so too, 
at least once in its history, was the Bishop who ofiiciated at its 
altar. In the porch to the bell-tower of this cathedral there is 
a carved portal which is the most massive and pure work of 
art produced by Manichaeism that I have ever seen. There 
are, of course, specimens of heretic architecture in France, but 
those were modified by an existing and flourishing French 
culture. Here a fresh and vigorous Manichaeism has been 
grafted on a dying and remote offshoot of Roman and Byzantine 

It is the work of a thirteenth-century sculptor called Radovan, 
or the Joyous One, and it instantly recalls the novels of 
Dostoievsky. There is the same sense of rich, contending dis- 
order changing oozily from form to form, each one of which the 
mind strives to grasp, because if it can but realise its significance 
there will be not order, but a hint of coming order. Above 
the door are many scenes from the life of Christ, arranged not 
according to the order of time ; in the beginning He is baptized, 
in the middle He is crucified, in the end He is adored by the Wise 
Men. These scenes are depicted with a primitive curiosity, but 
also make a highly cultured admission that that curiosity cannot 
be wholly gratified. It is as if the child in the artist asked, 
“ What are those funny men doing ? ” and the subtle man in him 
answered, “ I do not know, but I think . . .” On the outer edge 
of the door, one to the right and one to the left, stand Adam and 
Eve, opinions about our deprived and distorting destiny ; and 
they stand on a lion and a lioness, which are opinions about the 
animal world, and the nature we share with it. In the next 
column, in a twined confusion, the sculptor put on record the 
essence of the sheep and the stag, the hippopotamus and the 
centaur, the mermaid and the apostles ; and in the next he 
shows us the common man of his time, cutting wood, working 
leather, making sausages, killing a pig, bearing arms. But of 
these earthly types and scenes the child in the artist asked as 



eagerly as before, " What are those funny men doing ? ’’ and 
the man answered as hesitantly, "I do not know, but I 
think ...” 

There we have an attitude which differentiates Mani- 
chaeanism sharply from orthodox Christianity. If the common 
man was actually interpenetrated with particles of light, or 
divinity, as the heretics believed, and if this could be made 
more or less difficult to recover by his activities, then each 
individual and his calling had to be subjected to the severest 
analysis possible. But if the common man has a soul, a re- 
cognisable part of himself, as orthodox Christians believe, which 
is infected with sin through the Fall of man and can be cleansed 
again by faith and participation in the sacraments and adherence 
to certain ethical standards, then it is necessary not to analyse 
the individual but to make him follow a programme. This 
difference corresponds with the difference between Western 
Europeans and the Slavs, of which many of us receive our first 
intimations from Dostoievsky. In the West conversation is 
regarded either as a means of passing the time agreeably or 
exchanging useful information : among Slavs it is thought to 
be disgraceful, when a number of people are together, that they 
should not pool their experience and thus travel further towards 
the redemption of the world. In the West conduct follows an 
approved pattern which is departed from by people of weak or 
headstrong will ; but among Slavs a man will try out all kinds 
of conduct simply to see whether they are of the darkness or of 
the light. The Slavs, in fact, are given to debate and experi- 
ment which to the West seem unnecessary and therefore, since 
they must involve much that is painful, morbid. This spirit 
can be recognised also in the curious pressing, exploratory 
nature of Radovan's imagination. 

But there are other resemblances also between Mani- 
chaeanism and Slavism, between Radovan and Dostoievsky. For 
one, the lack of climax. The orthodox Christian thinks that 
the story of the universe has revealed itself in a design that 
would be recognised as pleasing in a work of finite proportions ; 
a number of people, not too great to be remembered, and all 
easily distinguishable, enact a drama which begins with the 
Creation, rises to its peak in the Incarnation, and is proceeding 
to its consummation in the Day of Judgment and the coming of 
the Kingdom of Heaven. The Manichaean believed that an 


immense crowd of people, often very difficult to distinguish 
from one another, are engaged in recovering the strayed 
particles of light, a process which can come to a climax only 
when it is finished. This is reflected in Radovan’s work by a 
curious levelness of inspiration, a lack of light and shade in his 
response to his subject ; in the Slav’s readiness to carry on a 
conversation for ever, to stay up all night : in Dostoievsky’s 
continuous, unremitting spiritual excitement. 

For another resemblance, there is the seeming paradox of a 
fierce campaign against evil combined with a tolerance of its 
nature. We cannot understand this in the West, where we 
assume that sincere hostility to sin must be accompanied by a 
reluctance to contemplate it and a desire to annihilate it. But 
according to the Manichaean faith there was no need to take 
action against darkness except when it enmeshed the light. 
When the kingdom of darkness was existing side by side with 
the kingdom of light without any commixture, then it was 
committing no offence. That attitude can be traced in Radovan’s 
faithful reproduction of life’s imperfect forms, in Dostoievsky’s 
choice of abnormality as a subject. And there is yet another 
resemblance which is particularly apparent in the work of 
Radovan. The columns he carved with the representations of 
the Smudge are borne on the shoulders of those who are wholly 
of the darkness, Jews and Turks and pagans. It is put forward 
solidly and without sense of any embarrassment that there are 
those who are predestined to pain, contrary to the principles of 
human justice. Calvin admitted this with agony, but there is 
none here ; and Dostoievsky never complains against the God 
who created the disordered universe he describes. This perhaps 
because the Manichaeans, like the Greeks, did not regard God 
as the Creator, but as the Arranger, or even as the Divine Sub- 
stance which had to be arranged. 

That the West should be wholly orthodox and not at all 
Manichaean in its outlook on these matters is the consequence 
of the zeal of the Roman Catholic Church. Quite simply it 
physically exterminated all communities who would not abandon 
the heretic philosophy. But the South-East of Europe was so 
continuously disturbed first by civil war and Asiatic invasion 
and then by the Turkish occupation, that the Eastern Church 
could not set up an effective machine for the persecution of 
heretics, even if it had had the temperament to do so. There 


the outward forms of Manichaeapism eventually perished, as 
they were bound to do in time, partly because of the complicated 
and fantastic nature of its legend and the indecorous and cruel 
perversions of its ritual ; but its philosophy remained, rooted 
in the popular mind before the Turkish gate closed down 
between the Balkans and the rest of the world, to travel north- 
wards and influence the new land of Russia, where after several 
centuries it inspired a generation of giants, to the astonishment 
of Europe. The Russian novelists of the nineteenth century 
represented the latest recrudescence of a philosophy that had 
too much nobility in it ever to perish utterly. 

But one wishes one knew how this heresy compared with 
orthodoxy as a consolation in time of danger : whether the 
Manichaeans of Trogir were as firmly upheld by their faith 
as the Christians of Salonae. The Manichaeans might claim 
that it served them better, so far as barbarian invasion was 
concerned, for they had one of the narrowest escapes from 
annihilation that are written in all history. The Professor took 
us on from the cathedral to see the scene of it. We walked out 
of the city on to the quay through a gate which still keeps the 
handsome stone lion of St. Mark that was the sign of Venetian 
possession, surmounted by the patron saint of Trogir, St. 
Giovanni Orsini, who was its Bishop about the time of the 
Norman Conquest ; he was a remarkable engineer, who was 
made a saint because he aided the Papacy in its efforts to 
suppress the Slav liturgy. A bridge crossed a channel hemmed 
with marble and glazed with the reflection of many cypresses, 
and joined Trogir to a mainland that showed us a little level 
paradise under the harsh bare limestone hills, where the pepper 
trees dropped their long green hair over the red walls of villa 
gardens, and Judas trees showed their stained, uneasy purple 
flowers through wrought-iron gates. “ You see, it came very 
near, so near that it could not have come any nearer," said the 

He spoke of the time in 1241, just after Radovan had 
started his portal, when the Mongols, seeking to expand the 
empire made for them by Genghis Khan, conquered Russia 
and swept across Europe to Hungary, putting King Bela and 
his nobles to flight. While he vainly petitioned the other 
Christian powers to help, the invaders swept on towards Vienna 
and then swung down to Croatia, burning, looting, killing. 



King Bela tried to stand finn at Zagreb, and sent his Greek 
wife and their three children to seek safety on the coast. These 
were ranging in panic between Split and the fortress of Kiish, 
just behind it in the mountains, when the King joined them, 
frantic with fear. It is doubtful if even our own times can 
provide anything as hideous as the Mongol invasion, as this 
dispensing of horrible death by yellow people made terrible as 
demons by their own unfamiliarity. It is true that the establish- 
ment of the Mongol Empire was ultimately an excellent thing 
for the human spirit, since it made Asiatic culture available to 
Europe ; but as Peer Gynt said, “ though God is thoughtful 
for His people, economical, no, that He isn’t 1 ’’ 

The King and a tattered, gibbering multitude of nobles and 
soldiers and priests, bearing with them the body of the saint 
King Stephen of Hungary, and many holy objects from their 
churches, trailed up and down the coast. Split received them 
magnificently, but the King struck away the townsmen's 
greetings with the fury of a terrified child. The shelter they 
offered him was useless. They might not know it, but he did. 
He had seen the Mongols. He demanded a ship to take him 
out to the islands. Yellow horsemen could not ride the sea. 
But there was none ready. He shouted his anger and went 
with his Queen and his train to Trogir, which is within a short 
distance of many islands. He fled to a neighbouring island, 
which is still called " The King’s Shelter ". Some of his 
followers went with him, but enough stayed in Trogir to carpet 
the place with sleeping men and women when night fell. Worn 
out by fatigue, by hunger, by fear, they threw themselves down 
wherever they could : on the floors of all rooms, in every palace 
and hovel, all over every church, under Radovan’s portal, on 
the flags of the piazza and the alleys, on the quays. Their 
treasures cast down beside them, they slept. Every boat too 
was covered with sleeping bodies and upturned faces, and the 
rocks of every island. 

The Mongols came down on the coast. Nothing could stop 
them. But at the sea they met a check. They had thought the 
King must be at Kiish or Split, and they were repulsed at both. 
The shelter offered by the Splitchani was not as negligible as 
the King had thought. The Mongols were used to unlimited 
space for their operations, and to attack fortifications from a 
terrain bounded by the sea or sharply broken ground presented 



them with a new problem. But they found their way to Trogir ; 
and on to this bridge across the channel they sent a herald 
who cried out in a loud voice the minatory moral nonsense 
talked by the aggressor in any age : " Here is the command* 
ment of the Kaidan, the unconquerable chief of the army : do 
not uphold the crimes of others, but hand over to us our enemies, 
lest you be involved in those crimes and perish when you need 
not." For the herald himself the delivery of this message must 
have been the supreme moment of his life, either for perverse 
joy or pain. For those who heard him tell us that he spoke in 
Slav as a Slav. Either he must have been a traitor or a prisoner. 
Either he was dooming his own people, whom he loathed, to 
their ruin, and his words were sweet as honey in his mouth ; 
or he loved his people, and he found his words bitter as gall. 

The guards of Trogir made no answer, for they had been 
ordered by the King to keep silent. Then we And, which is 
not common, history following a line to which we are accustomed 
in our private lives. We have all heard spoken tremendous 
words which must unchain tragedy, we have all recognised 
the phrase after which there can be nothing but love and 
happiness ; and afterwards nothing has happened, life goes on 
precisely the same, there is the vacuum of the anticlimax. But 
in history the pushed boulder usually falls. In Trogir, however, 
it was not so. After this tremendous moment, nothing happened. 
The herald cried out his tremendous message, the guards kept 
silent ; and presently the Mongols went home. It is thought 
that they were considering whether they should ford or bridge 
the channel, when they received news that their supreme chief, 
Ogodai, the son of Genghis Khan, had died in Asia, and that 
the succession was in dispute. They went back at a trot, just 
taking time to sack and kill on their way, through Southern 
Dalmatia, where they burned the lovely city of Kotor, and 
through Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria. Trogir breathed again. 
The King returned from his islet, and took his nobles and his 
armies and his priests and the dead St. Stephen and the holy 
jewels back to Hungary. But the Queen had to stay in Dalmatia 
for some time, till her two little daughters, Catarina and 
Margareta, died of a sickness they had contracted during their 
flight. Their tombs can be seen in Diocletian’s mausoleum at 

It is the kind of secret that time takes with it : whether the 

i 84 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

heretics of Trogir leaned on their faith and found it bore them, 
in those hours when the Mongol sword hung over their heads. 
But it can be deduced that in a general way it did them no 
harm, for they came out of the Middle Ages into the Renaissance 
strong in art and gallant. The interior of the cathedral, which 
is two hundred years later than Radovan’s work, has a fine 
form under its immensely rich vault, cut out of stone that has a 
warm grey bloom ; and there is a baptistery, naughtily over- 
decorated, but with an exquisite series of panels, in each of 
which a cherub bearing a torch thrusts his way through ponder- 
ous closing doors, ostensibly to illustrate some notion concerning 
immortality, but more probably because the Renaissance had 
a liking for fine little boys. And everywhere are small but 
delicious palaces in the Venetian Gothic style, sweetly compact, 
covered by elegance as by a creeper, with balconies and trellised 
windows. There is one such, most lovely, facing the cathedral, 
the residence of the Chippitch family. It is the very house 
where there was found the codex of The Satyricon. Here in 
Trogir it is as if events were caught in the rich architecture like 
wasps in syrup. 

When you go into the courtyard of the Chippitch Palace 
you will find the figureheads of two old ships, one a delicate 
Victory woman, the other a huge cock. Each was made on a 
long iron stalk, held in a long iron hand. They are violent in 
character, as if they were made by desperate men. One was 
the figurehead of the ship manned and financed by Trogir and 
commanded by Louis Chippitch at the battle of Lepanto in 
1571 and the other belonged to the Turkish ship he captured. 
He put them there when he came home and they have remained 
there ever since. Again we were made to realise the debt the 
West owes the people of this coast. The naval power of the 
Turks was broken at Lepanto and never was reconstituted. 
What broke it was a fleet composed of one hundred and fourteen 
Venetian galleys, a hundred and three Spanish galleys, twelve 
supplied by the Pope, four supplied by the Duke of Savoy, 
three from Malta, and seven from the seven Dalmatian towns, 
although by that time the coast was ravaged and poverty- 
stricken. Even devastated Rab and Krk sent one apiece. 
And Trogir’s contribution also was a magnificent offering from 
poverty ; for the town was perpetually forced by the Venetians 
to give money and supplies as bribes to the Turkish military 



and civil officials on the mainland, and it often knew real need. 
Not only Rab but Trogir, and indeed every community on this 
coast, paid in their gold and then blood for the security of the 

Since Trogir created such beauty and achieved such courage 
under Venice, the visitor is tempted to believe that foreign 
dominance was good for Dalmatia. But to think that is to be 
as superficial as visitors to an orphanage, who at sight of children 
with washed faces doing neat handwork forget the inevitable 
wrongs of institutional life. The inhabitants of this coast were 
looted of their money and their morals by their alien masters. 
“ Come into the Dominican Church,” said the Professor, “ and 
you will see how savage we were here, how horribly and beauti- 
fully savage.” In that fine church there is a tomb erected by 
a noble widow to her murdered husband. Carved as carefully 
and reverently as any Madonna in a Pietk, an enraged lioness 
lifts to heaven a muzzle soft and humid with the hope of ven- 
geance. " It is the vendetta put into stone,” said the Professor. 
“ Here the vendetta was a curse as it was in Corsica, because 
God has made us a very quarrelsome people, and the Hun- 
garians and the Venetians encouraged all our dissensions, so 
that we should not be a united people and would therefore be 
more easy for them to subdue.” 

This policy became more formidable in the fifteenth century, 
after Trogir had finally become Venetian. Refugees have 
always presented a grave problem to the countries that have 
received them. The culture they bring with them must clash 
with the culture they find established in their new homes. When 
the Turks overran the Balkan Peninsula some Bosnian and 
Herzegovinian landowners became Moslems and were left in 
possession of their lands, but those who clung to their faith fled 
to Dalmatia. They were pure feudal lords, of a type that had 
long disappeared from Western Europe, and they could not 
understand the constitution of the Dalmatian cities, which gave 
different rights to nobles and citizens, but on that basis defended 
them with equal justice. The refugees could not understand 
that they must treat with courtesy men of admittedly inferior 
social status, and that the nobles also would be against them 
if they failed to obey this convention ; and indeed some of the 
nobles, who were undemocratic and hated the citizens, were 
willing to side with the refugees in this. Thus there arose a 


^rcat deal of civil strife which time would have corrected if the 
Venetians had not seen in it an opportunity to obey that evil 
precept, divide et impera. They secretly backed each party 
against the others, and refrained from any legislative reform 
that would have sweetened the situation. 

But they went in for simpler misconduct. In the seven- 
teenth century Trogir produced a superb example of the learned 
gentleman of the Renaissance, Giovanni Lucius, or Yovan 
Lutchitch, a descendant of one of the same Bosnian refugees. 
He had studied in Rome and devoted his life to research into 
Croatian and Dalmatian history. His great work De Regno 
Dalmatiae et Croatiae is still a classic : he collected a gp'eat 
many original documents, for though he wrote with patriotic 
passion he was governed by the love of truth. But one of the 
feuds that Venice encouraged struck him down. A member of 
a noble family that had long been political enemies of the 
Lutchitches, Paolo de Andreis, was himself a historian and was 
himself engaged on a rival work. Dons will be dons, so he 
informed the authorities that Lutchitch was searching the 
archives to prove that the Venetians had violated the ancient 
constitutions of the Dalmatian cities. Later when the Venetian 
Governor-General came to visit Trogir and proposed to quarter 
himself on the Lutchitch Palace, Yovan Lutchitch excused him- 
self on the ground that his sister was gravely ill ; and again 
Andreis went to the authorities, this time to denounce his rival 
as a liar. Immediately Lutchitch was thrown into prison among 
common criminals, while a squad of galley slaves cleared his 
family out of their palace and the Governor-General took pos- 
session of it. Lutchitch himself was about to be bastinadoed, 
but the Bishop of Trogir saved him by appealing to the power 
of the Church, and got him permission to take refuge in Rome, 
where he died after thirty-four years of exile, an extravagant 
punishment for a patriot. 

“ We have so greatly needed peace, a little peace,” said the 
Professor, “ but we have had hardly any. And I will take you 
now to see a relic of the rdgime that gave us the fairest promise 
of it. But I warn you, you will laugh at it, it is not as impressive 
as it should be.” He took us round the wide hem of the city, 
the space on its quays where the walls used to stand, to the north 
end of the island. It did not take us long to get there, for this 
town is incredibly small : one could walk round it in less than 





ten mmutes. " Look at it well I " said the Professor, and we 
gaped, for what we saw was surprising in this land which is 
precious about its architecture, which will have nothing that is 
not superb or ethereal or noble. On a patch of waste ground, 
beside a medieval tower, there stands a little roofless temple 
raised on a platform of rough-hewn stones, not at all antique, 
not at all suggestive of sacrifices to the gods, strongly evocative 
of an afternoon in the park. Almost it is a bandstand. " Is it 
not French ? ” said the Professor. “ So neat, so irreverent to 
the tragic solemnity of the place and its past, so fundamentally 
admirable. You see the sea used to wash all round it. It is only 
since we had a Yugoslavia that there have been drained the 
marshes along the coast which gave the city malaria, and that 
has involved deepening the main channel and drawing the sea 
away from this shore. But when Marshal Marmont built this 
belvedere it was right out among the waves, and he used to sit 
there with his officers and play cards when it was very hot. 
That we find very amusing, it is such a light-minded pleasure- 
loving thing to do. And yet Marmont was a hero, a great hero, 
and the only foreign ruler that was truly good for us. Though 
we find it hard to forgive our conquerors, we could even find it 
in our hearts to admit that it would have been a good thing if 
the French had stayed here longer,” 

It is really a very pretty belvedere ; and it has the sacred 
French air of dealing respectfully and moderately with the little 
things of life that are not sacred. It is better, yes, it is definitely 
better, than the muzzle of the lioness wetly throbbing towards 
the scent of blood. That it knows and has put behind it. The 
sword was declared superseded in the delicious contentment 
housed here, between the colunms, above the rippling Adriatic. 
For indeed Marmont must have been extraordinarily happy 
here, for a time. For one thing, he very greatly disliked his 
wife, and here he was able to treat her extremely well from 
a very great distance. For another, he adored the place itself, 
and he was one of those who like the Slav flavour, who find all 
other peoples insipid by contrast. And he liked the exercise of 
independent power, as a Colonial Governor far from home. 
“ He was, of course, a very vain man,” said the Professor in a 
deprecating tone. I wondered why ; I have never been able to 
see why people object to vanity, unless it is associated with 
blindness to the qualities of others, and it often is not. 


But if Marmont was not vain, he was a prig. He must have 
been very well pleased with himself as he played cards in the 
belvedere. He was living in accordance with reason and virtue. 
He might have been very hot, but thanks to this intelligent 
device he was less hot. He was building up a career, and while 
many men have had to resort to violence and rapacity to serve 
their ambition he was at once earning success and disseminating 
peaceful manners, learning, and hygiene in a land previously 
barbarian. He did not even compromise his integrity, for he 
faced quite honestly the moral problem inherent in Empire. In 
his memoirs, which he wrote well for a man of action, he admits 
that a nation cannot hold alien territories without disingenuous 
handling of subject populations, he sets down without disguise the 
plain facts of certain occasions when he found it necessary to play 
politics and foment misunderstandings among friends in order to 
establish French authority. It may have happened that, while 
he waited for a partner to put down a card, he set his eyes on 
the dancing glass of the Adriatic, or the lion-coloured mountains, 
trembling like the sea in the heat, and hypnosis made him aware 
of the question the inner self perpetually asks itself : “ What am 
I doing, and is it good ? " The answer he would have overheard 
would certainly not have been boastful : it might have been 
proud of the process in which it was engaged, but it would have 
been modest regarding the extent of its engagement. The 
universe was in disorder ; its sole offensiveness lay in its dis- 
order. Man having been given, whether by a personal or an 
impersonal force it hardly mattered, a vision of order, he could 
correct the universe and regiment it into shining harmony. 
Marmont had pointed his sword at a bulging plinth and bidden 
it be straight ; he had raised his schoolmaster’s rod and a 
fallen column was again erect. He would have claimed no 
less, but no more, and would have been happy in an exact 
accountancy of his limited effort. 

But the place held a vaster, darker wisdom. On the edge 
of the city stands this belvedere with its six frail pillars. In 
the centre of Trogir stands the Cathedral with its portico 
sombre with the prophecies of Radovan, with his announce- 
ment that there is no hope within man, since he is a fusion 
of Light and Darkness, like the universe itself; and that 
he must work for the liberation of the Light and not for the 
reform of the universe, because the universe is evil, by reason 



of this fusion, and must pass. This is a hard word, hard with 
the intolerable hardness of mysticism. It is far harder, far 
more mystical, than the message of orthodox Christianity. It 
places on man a tremendous obligation to regard his life as a 
redemptory act, but at the same time it informs him that he is 
tainted through and through with the substance of damnation, 
and that the medium through which alone he can perform this 
act is equally tainted : and it assumes that this obligation is 
worth accepting and will in fact be crowned with success, 
simply because of the nature of the abstractions involved, 
simply because Light is Light and therefore to be loved. 

That it might be as Radovan thought was confirmed by 
the experience of Marmont ; his later card games in the belve- 
dere cannot have been happy at all. Napoleon was called by 
many The Man, and in his manhood he agreed with the Mani- 
chaean conception. He was at first a soldier of the Light. 
Marmont must have felt that in working with him he was driv- 
ing the Darkness engendered by the collapsed revolution out 
of France, and out of disturbed Europe. He had, indeed, 
almost no other grounds for liking the association. It is one 
of the oddest examples of human irrationality that while most 
of the people who really knew Napoleon well found him un- 
lovable and something of a bore, innumerable people who were 
not born until long after his death, and have nothing to go upon 
except the accounts of these familiars, obstinately adore him ; 
and these have blamed Marmont for coldness and ingratitude 
to him. But as Marmont explains in his memoirs, he had 
known Napoleon since his early youth and had never really 
liked him, and he had no reason to feel gratitude to him, for 
he had earned every step of his military promotion by concrete 
achievements that would have been similarly rewarded in any 
army. He worked with him because they both stood for the 
same ideal of national order. 

The darkness suddenly streamed out of Napoleon’s soul ; 
the ray had been white, it was black. There was manifest in 
his relations with his subordinates the same enjoyment of the 
exciting discord irrelevant to the theme which is familiar 
enough as a symptom of sexual degeneration, of incapacity for 
love. Marmont has recorded in his memoirs, with the exquisite 
accuracy of a perceptive but unimaginative man, the moment 
when Napoleon sought to slake this appetite on him, to his 


perturbation and disgust. During the iSog campaign Mar- 
mont returned 4o headquarters to report after fighting a 
brilliant and fatiguing engagement and was received by a 
scowling and soured Napoleon, who grumbled at him for 
nearly two and a half hours. When he went back to the hovel 
where he was billeted he flung himself down in an agony of 
weariness and humiliation, and was reduced to the extreme of 
bewildered misery because the room began to fill up with more 
and more people. Suddenly he found that they had come to 
congratulate him. The two and a half hours of nagging had 
been Napoleon’s way of adding spice to the promotion of 
Marmont to the rank of Marshal : so might a lover, of the 
sillier sort, pick a quarrel with the beloved before making her 
or him a present. But Marmont was interested in the art of 
war, in France, and in the establishment of the international 
order he thought most favourable to France ; and he could 
not imagine why his promotion from one rank of the army to 
another, about which there was nothing unnatural, which was 
according to routine, should be attended by discourtesy and 
gross disregard for his feelings. He records it with restraint. 
Napoleon had long been fallen when he wrote. But behind 
the well-mannered writing sounds a perplexity. If Napoleon 
thought I was good enough to be Marshal, which was pleasant, 
why couldn’t he have been pleasant about it ? Marmont 
would have liked pleasantness everywhere. The Light was 
in him, seeking to establish its kingdom. 

When he first went to Dalmatia it must have seemed that 
the Light in him and in Napoleon was working to free itself 
from the long captivity it had endured in these darkened lands. 
A strong and peaceful Illyria emerging from the state of war 
and anarchy that had lasted since nearly the beginning of 
recorded time would have shone like the moon coming out of a 
black cloud. There was a time in Napoleon’s life when the 
whole of Europe appeared to be suffering defeat before France 
only in order to rise again and put on an immortal brightness. 
But in a few months the prospect changed. It was as if there 
had been an eclipse ; the Manichaeans would have recognised 
its nature. In Napoleon there seemed now to be nothing but 
darkness. In Marmont’s letters he held up to Napoleon his 
own conception of a radiant Illyria, part of a transfigured 
Europe, and asked for support in realising it, in men, in money, 



in words. But Napoleon turned away, shutting his eyes as if 
he could no longer bear the light. He ignored all Marmont’s 
requests and replied in letters hot and sticky with roguishness, 
or did not reply at all. 

In the belvedere Marmont must have found it difficult to 
keep his mind on his cards. In the end, we know, he threw them 
in and pushed back his chair and strolled away, to leave Dal- 
matia for ever. There was fault in him too. He was man also, 
he was a fusion of good and evil, of light and darkness. There- 
fore he did not want with his wholeness that there should be a 
victory of light ; he preferred that darkness should continue to 
exist, and this universe, the Smudge, should not pass away. 
He showed it and so did all his reasonable kind, by leaving 
power in the hands of Napoleon, who had long ceased to be 
reasonable, who was now seeking disgrace as he had earlier 
sought glory. He went to Spain, he went to Russia, against 
the advice of his counsellors, for no other purpose than to make 
a long journey and be benighted at its end. But the change in 
him excited no horror in the people, rather their passion for him 
rose to an orgasm, as if this were the climax to which his glory 
had been but the preparation. The great men for whom 
humanity feels ecstatic love need not be good nor even gifted ; 
but they must display this fusion of light and darkness which is 
the essential human character ; they must even promise, by a 
predominance of darkness, that the universe shall for ever per- 
sist in its imperfection. 

After Napoleon had safely led back Europe to the limits of 
frustration it preferred to Paradise, nothing happened in Dal- 
matia fur a hundred years. Austrian rule was sheer negativism. 
The Slavs were raised up in enmity against the Italian-speaking 
sections, who were either such descendants of the Roman 
settlers as had never amalgamated with the Slavs, or Venetian 
immigrants. There was no coherence ; very little trade, since 
the Austrian railway system was designed to encourage the 
prosperity of Austria and Hungary and leave the Slav territories 
isolated from the rest of Europe. In Trogir grass grew in the 
streets and piazzas. But the tradition of its rich civic life was 
not broken. After the war this town, like many another on the 
Dalmatian coast, was coveted by the Italians, who one September 
night in 1919 sent a small party of soldiers to seize it. It should 
have been defended by eight Yugoslav soldiers, but these had 


too ingenuously accepted hospitality by some pro-Italians on 
the previous evening and were all unconscious. So when the 
inhabitants woke up in the morning they found their town in 
possession of Italian soldiers. There were, however, only five 
families that were pro-Italian ; and the rest of the population 
rushed at the invaders and disarmed them with their bare hands. 
One woman ran at four men in charge of a machine-gun and 
took it away from them, and many others chased out runaway 
Italians who had taken refuge in the courtyards of the houses, 
beating them with their fists and tearing away their helmets and 
belts. " I do not tell you their names,” said the Professor, “ be- 
cause it is a very disagreeable thing for a lady to have to commit 
such violent acts, and these were not viragoes, they were ladies. 
But I can assure you that they bore names which have been 
distinguished in the annals of Trogir for many centuries, and 
that they were none of them ignorant of their ancestors’ 

It is a very quiet city now : an empty city, for it suffered 
like Rab from a terrible visitation of the plague, and the popula- 
tion has never replenished itself, because the malaria that raged 
here till recently caused sterility. But it exists. That is to be 
noted, for there is a legend all over Europe which leaves not 
one of its stones standing upon another. Close by the Cathedral 
there is a loggia which was the ancient hall of justice, undatable 
because it was built of bits and pieces from the old town which 
was destroyed by the Saracens and from near-by Roman settle- 
ments. It was in ruins during the Austrian occupation, and it 
was roofed and made decent by the Yugoslav Government. 
Nevertheless in all anti-Slav circles it has become a symbol of 
the barbarity of the Yugoslavs, because of a very small deface- 
ment. It happened that on the wall behind the stone table at 
which the judges used to sit there was placed during the late 
fifteenth century a winged lion of St. Mark, surrounded by saints 
and emblems of justice. Every Dalmatian town bears such a 
symbol at one place or more, on a wall or a gate, or public 
building, and always it is beautiful. The lion is always waved 
and opulent, and reminds one that it was Bronzino and Paris 
Bordone who first celebrated the type which we know now, in 
brass instead of gold, as Mae West. To judge from photographs 
the lion in the loggia was a specially glorious example of its 
kind, a lilium auratum in stone. While the Austrians were in 



Dalmatia the wind and the rain beat on this lion, but it was 
properly sheltered after the Yugoslavs had done their repairs. 

It unfortunately happened, however, that about Christmas- 
time in 1932 some young men of Trogir got drunk, and their 
larger, simpler emotions were liberated. They then remembered 
that the Italians had tried to steal their city, and had not given 
up the hope of doing so some day ; and they inflicted severe 
damage on this lion and another at the port gate of the town. 
They were not utterly destroyed. They still exist, in a quite 
recognisable form, on the walls of a museum. This was one 
of those incidents which prove it to be a matter of sheer luck 
that man does not go on all-fours, but it obviously had no other 
significance. Italy, however, took the opportunity to give an 
extraordinary exhibition of her intentions towards Dalmatia. 
There took place all over the country demonstrations against 
the Yugoslavian Government, organised by two societies which 
exist for the purpose of such mischief-making, Dalmatia Irre- 
denta and Pro-Dalmatia. Mussolini himself declared that in 
the mild hooliganism of the intoxicated young men, he saw “ the 
clear expression of a mentality of hate that made no secret of its 
opposition to Italy. ... It is a carefully premeditated plan. 
. . . The responsible parties are to be found among elements of 
the ruling classes. . . . The lions of Trogir are destroyed, but 
in their destruction they stand stronger than ever as a living 
symbol and a certain promise." To keep the peace the Yugo- 
slavian Government had to eat dirt, and, what is worse, harden 
its tradition of merciiessness towards its own people by sup- 
pressing the counter-demonstrations against Italy which natur- 
ally took place all over Yugoslavia. 

The wickedness and absurdity of Mussolini’s proceedings 
can be estimated if one imagines Great Britain making hostile 
demonstrations against Ireland because some drunken boys in 
Cork had destroyed a couple of Union Jacks that had been left 
there during the English occupation. But that does not quite 
express the perversity of the Italian attitude, for it must further 
be remembered that Trogir had not belonged to Venice for a 
hundred and forty years, at which time it would have been 
impossible for a Roman or the inhabitant of any other Italian 
city except Venice to feel any emotion whatsoever regarding 
an insult to the Lion of St. Mark, except perhaps a lively 
sympathy. This immense forgery of feeling led on to a forgery 



of fact There spread all over Italy and into Central Europe, 
and thence all over the world, a belief that the inhabitants of 
Trogir had destroyed all the historic beauties of their town, and 
even their entire town. “ What, you went to Trogir ? ” a 
refugee German professor said to me in London, after my first 
visit to Dalmatia. " But it cannot have been worth your while, 
now that these barbarous Yugoslavs have levelled everything 
worth looking at to the ground. Ah, if you had only visited it, 
when I did, two years before the war ! You can have no idea 
how beautiful it was then ! ” Medieval Europe was ignorant, it 
believed in unicorns and mermaids, it debated how many angels 
could dance on the point of a needle. The folly of modern 
Europe provides .us with no agreeable decorative symbols, it 
does not lead us to debate on the real fact of the different planes 
of existence. It pretends for mean motives that a city which 
stands steadily among the moving waters, its old buildings and 
its old families as they have been for seven hundred years, is not. 


My husband was reading to me from Count Voinovitch’s 
HUtoire de Dalmatie a fairy story that they tell about the 
Emperor Diocletian all over this coast and Bosnia and Herze> 
govina and Montenegro. It is a variant of the story we all know' 
about Midas. It seems that he had a ridiculous physical secret 
which he could keep from all the world except his barber, a’ 
little matter of ears like an ass and horns like a ram. So his 
barbers shaved him but once, and were never heard of again. 
At last a barber who was the only son of a widow was told that 
the next day he must shave the Emperor’s beard. He was 
overcome with horror, but his mother told him not to despair, 
and made him a little cake moistened with her own milk, and 
said to him, “ While you are shaving the Emperor take a bit of 
this cake.” When he did so, Diocletian smelt the curious 
odour of the paste, and asked for a piece of it. He liked it, 
but found the taste peculiar, and felt he knew it yet could not 
name it. “ What did your mother use to moisten this cake ? ” 
he asked. “ Her own milk,” answered the barber. " Then 
we are brothers and I cannot kill you,” said the Emperor. 
Thereafter the story follows familiar lines : the barber’s life is 


spared, but he is sworn to silen<%, and he is so inconvenienced 
by the secret that he murmurs it to a reed, which is made into a 
flute by the village children and repeats it whenever it is played. 

“ How characteristic it is of the Slavs to keep on telling this 
story,” said my husband ; " it is so packed with criticism of the 
idea of power. The folk imagination that invented it is re- 
sponsible to the majesty of the Emperor and his usefulness to 
the community, and it recognises that he can exercise power 
and that his subjects can obey him only if there is a convention 
that he is superhuman, that he has none of the sub-human 
characteristics which compose humanity. The Emperor must 
therefore be permitted to commit acts in defence of this con- 
vention which would be repulsive if an individual committed 
them for his private ends. But here nature speaks, through the 
mother, who is a superb example of the hatefulness of women 
as Strindberg sees it. She pulls down what men have built up 
by an appeal to the primitive facts of life which men have 
agreed to disregard in order that they may transcend them. 
She proves to the Emperor that after all he is an individual, 
that the murder he commits for the sake of maintaining a useful 
convention may be a social act but is also fratricide on a basis 
of reality. But the story does not give her the victory either, 
for it gives a warning that once a breach is made in that con- 
vention, it must fall ; what the barber knows the village children 
must know before long, and then there must be anarchy. The 
story is perfectly balanced ; but it shows bias to have preserved 
it, and that bias would make it very difHcult for Slavs ever to 
settle down under a government, and lead a rangi political life.” 

" I wonder what the woman really put in the cake," I said, 
“ for it requires a great deal of explanation if the widowed 
mother of a grown-up son should have any milk. But what on 
earth are our friends doing ? It is half-past eight.” For we 
were in our bedroom, waiting for a lady and her husband, 
Mr. and Mrs. X., who were to take us to a charity festival in the 
town, where there was to be a dance and a cabaret supper, and 
there we were to meet other friends of ours, Mr. and Mrs. A., 
and spend the evening with the four of them. " Yes, something 
must have gone wrong,” said my husband, “ for they said they 
would come at seven.” " Then let us go downstairs and have 
dinner,” I demanded. " No,” said my husband, " if we do 
that we will eat a lot at dinner because it is so good, and then 


we will have to eat more food at the dance, and we are effete 
Westerners. If you are hungry, it is your own fault for rejecting 
the waiter’s advice, and not keeping that nice cold palatschinken 
by you.” And indeed it was only a few minutes later that Mr. 
and Mrs. X. sent up a message to say that they were in the hall 
of the hotel, but would be glad if we did not come down but 
received them in our room, as they wished to speak to us on a 
private matter. 

As soon as they entered, Mrs. X., who was an exquisite 
creature made of moonlight and soot-black shadows, cast from 
her slimness her heavy coat, which fell from her like a declara- 
tion in recitative. Both she and her husband, who was himself 
exceedingly handsome, were in a state of excitement that recalled 
Italian opera. It was tragic yet not painful, it was accomplished 
and controlled, and yet perfectly sincere. What it was putting 
forward as important, it in fact felt to be important. They both 
began by apologising to us deeply, for having kept us waiting, 
for not being able to offer us the most intense and comprehensive 
hospitality possible. But they had found themselves unable to 
carry out Mr. A.’s plan for the evening. Absolutely unable ; 
and it was astonishing that Mr. A. could have conceived that it 
should be otherwise. He would never have put forward such 
a proposal had he not been exposed to alien influences, had he 
not just returned from several years in the United States and 
had his wife not been a Czech. This had, naturally enough, no 
doubt, made him insensitive to the state of public opinion in 

When the X.s had first received Mr. A.’s letter two hours 
before, they said, warming up nicely, they had looked at each 
other in horror. For it had presented them with a dilemma. 
Mr. A. would not have put forward his proposal had it not 
suited our convenience. Was it therefore their duty to overlook 
the affront it offered to the public opinion of Split in order to 
fulfil the Dalmatian ideal of hospitality ? To decide this they 
had visited a friend, a judge ninety years old, of a very ancient 
Splitchani family, who was a connection of Mr. X.’s mother. 
He had told them that he considered the question immensely 
delicate, but that he understood we had shown signs of sensibility 
and it was therefore unlikely we would wish them to violate the 
feeling of their birthplace. The judge had added that as we 
were travelling abroad instead of being in England at the time 



of the Coronation, we were probably members of some party 
which was in opposition to the Government, and would be the 
more ready to understand their point of view. So Mr. and Mrs. 
X. had gone to see Mr. and Mrs. A., who had seen their point 
of view when it was explained to them, and had instantly 
apologised, but had had to go to the festival all the same, as 
they had promised to act as judges in some competition ; and 
they had, indeed, framed an alternative plan for the evening 
which we might perhaps consider, if we were not incensed 
against hosts who altered their programme of hospitality for the 
sake of their own honour. 

We felt unworthy subject-matter for this excitement, and we 
realised that there had been some monstrous over-estimation 
of the delicacy of our sentiments. So might two comfortable 
toads feel if the later Henry James and Edith Wharton at her 
subtlest insisted on treating them as equals. “ Let me give you 
some of the brandy I have brought from London,” said my 
husband, and I could see that the poor creature was trying to 
make a claim to some sort of fineness, even though it were other 
than that which they were ascribing to us. We all sipped 
brandy with an air of sustaining ourselves during a crisis. 
Then they went on to explain that Mr. A. had forgotten that 
whereas the charitable festival was being held for the benefit of 
some fund for supplying the poor with medical attention, it was 
organised by Dr. and Mrs. Y., emigrated Jews from Zara, the 
Dalmatian town which has been handed over to the Italians, 
who were almost the only prominent pro- Yugoslavians in the 
town, and who might use this fund in cooperation with institu- 
tions which ought to be ignored, because they had been founded 
by the Government. The charity festival was therefore being 
boycotted by all the considerable families in Split, of the social 
level of Mr. and Mrs. X., or Mr. and Mrs. A. Other people 
could take us, if we cared to go. But it was impossible, the 
X.s assured us in something like a duet by the early Verdi, 
impossible that they should do so. 

We refrained from weirning them that some day they might 
have something really worth worrying about ; and we intimated 
that as we had promised a very civil shopkeeper friend of ours 
to go to this festival, we should prefer to keep our promise. 
This we did, and enjoyed a spectacle of nice-looking young 
people performing with graceful awkwardness under the eyes 


of adoring parents, of which we had seen the like in Exetv, in 
Edinburgh and in Cleveland, Ohio. There ate a few institu* 
tions which are universal, and it is pleasant when one proves 
to be pretty and innocent. But the organisers, the doctor and 
his wife, were interesting and pathetic. They seemed outside 
the Splitchani tradition, not because they were Jews, but because 
they belonged to that warm and idealistic and intelligent breed 
of Jew that puts its trust in s3mthesis and centralisation. Always 
they would assume that hatred and stupidity were peculiar 
local conditions, which any general government would make 
its business to correct ; and this optimism would be reinforced 
by their knowledge that there does in fact exist a unifying 
force, which on the whole is benevolent, in science. They were 
both learning English, and they beamed as they spoke of it. 
It appeared to them much more clearly than it did to me, that 
they were associating themselves with Liberalism. But that 
was only part of their buoyant Utopianism, which believed 
that if a large enough number of charity festivals of this kind 
were held, if enough people studied a language other than their 
own, if enough vows of tolerance were taken by the State, 
there would be an end to poverty, war and misery. I could 
only hope that, holding such inoffensive views in our offensive 
age, they might be permitted to die in their beds. 

Our four friends, the X.s and the A.s, met us in the principal 
cafd of the town after the entertainment, and we took an early 
opportunity to ask them why they and their world were against 
the Yugoslav State. Their first reply was simply to look very 
handsome. Their eyes widened, their nostrils dilated. 'The 
natural exception was Mrs. A., the Czech, who seemed, like 
ourselves, a little gross by contrast. We were in effect watching 
racehorses racing, beautiful specialised animals demonstrating 
their speciality, which was opposition. I had to remind myself 
that this concentration on opposition had substantially con- 
tributed to the saving of Western Europe from Islam. Few of 
us have as much reason to be thankful to the plainer and 
blunter virtues as to this cloak and sword romanticism that I 
saw before me ; and they themselves owed their very existence 
to it. Only that had saved them from Rome, from the barbarian 
invaders, from the Hungarians and Venetians, from the Turks, 
from the Austrians. But all the same a Government which 
was not seeking to destroy them but cooperate with them must 



find this attitude so maddening that it \rould be not unnatural 
did it sometimes behave as if it were seeking their destruction. 

" Tell me,” said my husband, " some specific things that 
you find objectionable about Yugoslavia.” " Belgrade I ” ex- 
claimed Mr. and Mrs, X. in one voice. " This country,” Mr. X. 
explained, ” is fantastically and extraordinarily poor. You 
would not believe how poor the poor people in our city are, 
how poor nearly all the people in the country outside are. The 
Government does nothing for us, but they take our taxes and 
they spend them in Belgrade. They are putting up whole new 
streets of offices, there is not a Ministry that hasn’t a palace for 
its home. Is that fair, when down here we lack bread ? ” " It 
was a wretched little village before the war,” said Mrs. X., 
” a pig-town. It made one laugh to see it, particularly if one 
had been to Zagreb. But now they are turning it into a place 
like Geneva, with public buildings six and seven store}rs high, 
all at our expense." “ But do you not think that is necessary ? ” 
asked my husband. “ For it was because Serbia had such a 
capital as Belgrade was before the war, that the Austrian 
Foreign Office used to treat the Serb diplomats as if they were 
farm labourers come up to the great house with an impertinent 
demand.” “ But the Serbs are not like us,” said Mrs. X. 
vaguely. " They are not like us, they have not the tradition 
that we have here in Split. And how can Belgrade ever be such 
a beautiful town as our Split ? ” 

“ I see the problem from a different aspect,” said Mr. A., 
“ because I have been in America for a very long time. It does 
not shock me so much that Dalmatia should be governed from 
Belgrade, for I have lived in Milwaukee for many years, and 
things went very well there, though we were governed from 
Washington, which was far further away from us than Belgrade 
is from Split. And I have been to Washington, which is a fine 
city, and I know it is right that the Government of a great 
country should have impressive buildings. But my case against 
Belgrade is that it governs badly. Oh, I know there is corrup- 
tion md graft in American politics, but you have no idea what 
it is like here. The trouble is not only that, as X. says, the money 
goes to Belgrade, it’s what happens to it when it gets there. 
It sticks to people’s palms in the most disgusting way. There 
are ever so many people in Belgrade who have made fortunes, 
huge fortunes, by peculation. And that’s the only activity in 



which they ever show any efficiency. For the idiotic muddle 
of the administration is beyond belief.” 

” It is worse then than it was under the Austrians ? ” 
asked my husband. They looked at him in astonishment. " Not 
at all," said Mr. A. ; “ the Austrians were not inefficient at all. 
They were assassins. Look what they did here with the rail- 
ways 1 ” They all broke out into cries of anger and disgust. 
“ Why, think of it,” said Mr. X., “ the railway stopped outside 
Split, so as to make sure we should be nothing of a port.” 
" And we could not go to Austria except through Budapest,” 
said Mrs. X. ” That was the Hungarian influence, of course,” 
said Mr. A. “ But Austria permitted it,” said Mr. X. " Per- 
mitted it ! ” cried Mrs. A., the Czech ; “ tell me when those who 
speak German have not rejoiced in humiliating the Slavs. 
And there are people in your country,” she said to us, “ who 
are sorry for the German-speaking minorities in Czecho- 
slovakia. There are beings so charitable that they would get 
up funds to provide feeding-bottles for baby alligators.” 

But my husband persisted. “ Then you found the Austrians 
efficient in what ? Assassination only ? ” “ In that certainly,” 
said Mr. A., ” but they were also far more efficient than our 
present government in the everyday routine of administration. 
Take the case of my family. Several of them have been 
university professors. Now, the old ones, who retired under 
the Austrians, never had any difficulty in getting their pensions. 
They drew their pay, they retired, they filled in papers, they 
drew the appointed sum. Nothing could have been simpler. 
But now there is terrible disorder. I have an uncle, a Professor 
of Mathematics, who retired months ago. He fulfilled all the 
requisite formalities, but he has not yet touched a penny of his 
pension. The papers have not come through from Belgrade, 
for no other reason than sheer muddle.” "And it is so, too, in 
my profession,” said Mr. X. " I am a lawyer, it is the calling 
of my family, and some of my older relatives are judges. It is 
the same with pensions, and appointments and even dates for 
trials, everything that comes from Belgrade. There is endless 
bother and muddle. And we are not accustomed to such things 
in Split, for here we manage our affairs simply it may be, but 
with a certain distinction.” ” Ah, yes,” said Mrs. A., “ if they 
would leave us Splitchani to manage our own affairs, that would 
be all we ask.” 



" But there are affairs which are certainly your own, but 
which equally you cannot maftage,” said my husband. " You 
could not yourselves have got rid of Austria, and you cannot 
yourselves protect yourselves if she comes back, or if Italy 
wants to establish the same domination over you.” They looked 
at him with preoccupied bright eyes, and said, " Of course, of 
course.” “ And though some money must vanish in Belgrade 
in peculation, since that inevitably happens in every new 
country, ” said my husband, “ a great deal must be spent in 
legitimate enterprises. There is, after all, Macedonia and Old 
Serbia. I have not yet been there, but my wife tells me it has 
been revolutionised since the days when it was Turkish, that 
she has seen with her own eyes hundreds of miles of good 
military roads, whole districts of marshes that have been 
drained and now are no longer malarial, and many schools 
and hospitals. All that costs money.” “ Yes, there was nothing 
down there in those parts,” said Mr. A. without enthusiasm. 
" They are nearly barbarians,” said Mrs. X., wrinkling her 
nose with distaste. " Have you ever been there ? ” asked my 
husband. They shook their heads. Split is two days’ easy 
journey from Old Serbia, three days from the heart of Macedonia. 
" It is not easy for us to go to such places,” said Mrs. X. ; 
“ here in Split we have a certain tradition, we would not be at 
home there.” 

When we got back to our room in the hotel, my husband 
said, " All this is very sad. Men and women have died and 
lived for the ideal of Yugoslavia, the South Slav State; and 
here are these very charming people chafing with discontent 
at the realisation of it. And so far as I can see, however bad 
Belgrade may be, they give it no chance to prove its merits. 
These people are born and trained rebels. They cry out when 
they see a government as if it were a poisonous snake, and 
seize a stick to kill it with, and in that they are not being fanciful. 
All the governments they have known till now have been, so far 
as they are concerned, poisonous snakes. But all the same 
that attitude would be a pity, if they happened to meet a govern- 
ment for once who was not a poisonous snake. 

“ Moreover, I cannot see how these people can ever fit into 
a modern state. They are essentially the children of free cities. 
Because all these towns, even while they were exploited and 
oppressed so far as their external relations w'ere concerned. 


possessed charters that gave them great freedom to manage 
their internal affairs. Under thi Hungarian crown the towns 
enjoyed the same sort of freedom, as of a state within a state, 
that the City of London enjoyed under Henry the First. Their 
rights were ceaselessly attacked by Venice, but they managed 
to defend most of them. They were forced to provide men for 
the Venetian army and navies, and their trade was ruined by 
the restrictions laid upon it ; but they were always to some 
extent masters at their own firesides. They really cannot 
conceive of a centralised government at all as otherwise than 
an evil : and when they got rid of Austria there must have been 
a childish idea at the back of their minds that they had also 
got rid of a centralised government, and would return to 
medieval conditions. Alas 1 Alas I *' 

" Look," I said, “ I am watching three people talking in 
the square. They are so very picturesque ; come and see them.” 
My husband turned out the light and came and sat beside me 
on the window-seat. The square was whitewashed with moon- 
light ; the dark shadows took the nineteenth-century Venetian 
Gothic architecture and by obscuring the detail and emphasising 
the general design made it early, authentic, exquisite. On the 
quay ships slept, as alone among inanimate objects ships can 
sleep : their lights were dim and dreaming. Between the 
flaked trunk of a palm tree and the wild-haired shadow of 
its leaves stood three men of the quick and whippy and secret 
kind we had seen when we first entered Split, descendants of 
those who had lived through the angry centuries the lives of 
rats and mice in the walls of Diocletian’s Palace. Sometimes 
we could hear their voices raised in lyrical mockery, and some- 
times they made gestures that united them on a platform of 
heroism and loaded some absent person with ridicule and 
chains. “ Yes, they are wonderful,” said my husband. "Though 
they probably have no noble ideas, they are noble in the intensity 
of their being, and in the persistency with which they try to 
identify their standards and the ultimate values of right and 
wrong. See how they are pretending that behind them, had one 
but the proper eyesight, could be seen the wings of the hierarchy 
of angels and the throne itself, and that behind the man they are 
despising is primeval ooze and chaos. These people are pro- 
foundly different from us. They are not at all sentimental, but 
they are extremely poetic. How they examine everything, and 



analyse it, and form a judgment on it that engenders a supply 
of the passion which is their motive power I How I should 
hate to govern these people who would not accept the idea of 
government and would insist on examining it, but only as a 
poet does, from the point of view of his own experience, which' 
is to . say that they would reject all sorts of information about 
it which they ought to consider if they are going to form a just 
opinion about it.” 

We watched the three men till a languor showed in their 
vehemence. They had laughed so much at the fourth man who 
was not there that any further mockery would seem an anti-' 
climax. The night was left to the sleeping ships, to the temporary 
romantic perfection of the Venetian arcades. " Get into bed,”, 
my husband said, ” and I will read you the other story which 
Voinovitch says the Dalmatian peasantry tell about the Emperor 
Diocletian.” It was the prettier of the two. It represents 
Diocletian’s daughter, Valeria, as the victim of her father ; not 
as in fact she was, as the subject of a good worldly marriage 
that went maniacally wrong, but with a destiny cut fairy-tale 
fashion. She had, according to this story, a crowd of suitors, 
and of these her father chose a prince whom she could not 
tolerate. So she refused obedience, and upon this her father 
cast her into one of the dungeons in his palace. But God was 
on her side. Once a year invisible hands opened the door of 
her prison, and she travelled through the city clad in cloth of 
gold, in a shining chariot drawn by winged horses. Her 
presence was a benediction, and anybody who could stop the 
chariot and embrace her would be happy all the rest of his 
life. When Diocletian heard of these visits he sent soldiers to 
clear the streets, but it could not be done. The people worshipped 
Valeria and would not be driven away. Then Diocletian 
decided to kill her. But the walls of her prison melted, md 
not all his power could discover her. According to this legend, 
she still lives, and once every hundred years she comes back to 
her worshippers. It is not known what year of the century she 
chooses for her visit, but be that as it may, her visit always 
falls at Christmastide. When they are saying the midnight 
mass in the Cathedral, a procession of ghosts starts from Salonae 
and winds up the road to Split ; and at the end the lovely young 
Valeria rides in her golden coach, still able to give lifelong 
happiness to all that embrace her. She still, it must be observed, 


carries on her quarrel with authority. She was at odds with her 
pagan father, but she does not attend the Christian mass. 

“ See, this story cuts at the root of the idea of power,” said 
my husband, " it denies all necessary sanctions to authority. 
For power claims to know what life is going to be about and 
what prescription to offer, and authority claims to be able to 
enforce that prescription. But the Slav knows, as this story 
proves, that life, which is to say Valeria, is in essence un- 
predictable, that she often produces events for which there is no 
apt prescription, and that she can be as slippery as an eel when 
wise men attempt to control her ; and they know that it is life, 
not power or authority, that gives us joy, and this often when 
she is least predictable. Knowing Valeria, they cannot respect 
Diocletian ; yet they produce Diocletian, they are Diocletian, 
they know perfectly well that power and authority are necessary.” 


On another great white steamer we glided down the coast 
to Korchula ; and received at one port, and put ashore at 
another, the older of the two German couples with whom we 
had travelled from Salzburg to Zagreb. They hastened towards 
us uttering cries of welcome, excessively glad to see us because 
their holiday had made them excessively glad about everything. 
The man no longer looked ill, he seemed bound to his wife 
by a common novel satisfaction, as if they had been on their 
honeymoon. " It is so good here,” they laughed, " one forgets 
all one’s worries." There seemed fresh evidence for the 
malignity of the universe in the sight of these Aryans, blossoming 
in their temporary exile from Germany, when all over England 
and France and America so many Jews were mourning for the 
fatherland in a grief visible as jaundice. Another of Dalmatia’s 
angry young men watched them coldly as they disembarked. “ I 
am a hotel manager at Hvar,” he said. Hvar is a beautiful town, 
which lies on an island of the same name. It is noted for the 
extraordinary sweetness of its air, which is indeed such as might 
be inhaled over a bed of blossoming roses, and by a perversity 
rare in the Serbo-Croat tongue it is pronounced “ Whar ”. 
” Your friends will presently come to me and demand impossible 
terms. They are a curious people the Germans. They seem 
content to travel when we would prefer to stay at home. Where 



is the pleasure of travelling if you cannot spend freely ? Yet 
these Germans come here and have to count every penny and 
do not seem at all embarrassed. Now, that is all right if one is 
a poor student at Zagreb or Vienna, or is ill and has to go to a 
spa. But for a tourist it seems very undignified." It had struck 
me before that there are many resemblances between the Slavs 
and the Spanish, and this spoke with the very voice of Spain, in 
its expression of the purse-pride which comes not from wealth 
but from poverty, in its conception of handsome spending as an 
inherently good thing, to be indulged in, like truthfulness, even 
against one's economic interest. 

The angry young man scowled down at the marbled blue 
and white water that rushed by our ship. “ I have read in 
Jackson's great book on Dalmatia,” said my husband, to soothe 
him, " that the inhabitants of the island of Hvar added to their 
income by making a sweet wine called prosecco, by distilling 
rosemary water, and by making an insecticide from the wild 
chrysanthemum. Do they still do all those pleasant things ? ” 
" Not to any extent,” answered the young man, his brows 
enraged. “Now they cultivate the tourist traffic all summer, 
and talk politics all winter. Politics and politics and politics, 
I am sick of politics. Why can we never have any peace ? 
Why must there always be all this conflict ? ” He was as angry 
as the young man who had been angry with the gardener at 
Trsat, or the other who had been angry with the cold soup on the 
boat to Rab, and it was with them that he felt angry. My 
husband attempted to comfort him by telling him that in 
England we were suffering from marked deterioration of 
political life, and even of national character, because we have 
no effectual opposition. “ But here there is nothing but disputes 
and disputes and disputes ! ” cried the young man. 

There had been standing beside us a middle-aged man in 
expensive clothes, who was holding up his hand to hide the left 
side of his face. He now pressed forward and made what was 
evidently a sharp remark to the angry young hotel manager, 
who turned to us and said gloomily, " This man, who is a native 
of Hvar, says that I do wrong to speak to you like this, for it 
might discourage you from visiting Hvar, and it is certainly the 
most beautiful place in the world. I hope I have not done 
that ? ” The middle-aged man interrupted in German, " Yes, 
you must not take what he says too seriously, for though we in 


Hvar are quarrelsome, as all Slavs are (it is the curse that has 
been laid upon us) that does not alter its extraordinary beauty. 
You must not miss visiting us, indeed you must not.” “ We 
cannot do so now,” said my husband, " for we have made definite 
plans to go to Korchula to-day. But we will try to stop at Hvar 
on our way back." ” Yes, that you must do I For, though I 
do not want to be discourteous to a sister island, and indeed all 
Dalmatia is glorious country, Korchula has little to show com- 
pared to Hvar.” He began to speak of their main street, which 
is broad and paved with marble and lined with fifteenth-century 
palaces weathered to warm gold ; of the old Venetian arsenal, 
that had a dry dock for the galleys below and above a theatre, 
the first theatre to be built in the Balkans, which is still just as 
it was in the seventeenth century, though the curtains in the 
boxes are thin as paper ; of the Franciscan monastery that 
stands on a piny headland, with its picture of the Last Supper 
which is so marvellous that a Rothschild who had been made 
an English duke had tried to buy it from the monks for as many 
sovereigns as would cover the canvas ; and of the lovely garden 
that had been made on the hill above the town, by a pupil of 
our dear Professor at Split, who had wished to emulate his 
teacher's achievement in planting the woods on Mount Marian, 
which is as pretty a testimony to the value of humanist education 
as 1 know. During his story there sometimes came to him 
living phrases which made actual the beauty of his home, and 
then his hand dropped, no longer feeling it urgent to hide the 
port-wine stain that ravaged the left side of his face from 
temple to chin ; and when the steamer entered Hvar harbour, 
and it was as he had said, he let his hand drop by his side. 

When these new friends had left us and we were out in 
mid-channel, I picked up a guide-book, but soon laid it down 
again, saying to my husband peevishly, ” This guide-book is 
written by a member of my sex who is not only imbecile but 
bedridden. She is wrong about every place we have been to, 
so wildly wrong that it seems probable that not only can she 
never have visited any of these particular cities, but that she 
can have seen no scenery at all, urban or rural.” " I think,” 
said my husband, “ that that is perhaps something of an over- 
statement. In any case there is no need for you to keep your 
eyes down on any guide-book, you might just as well be looking 
at the islands, which are really becoming very beautiful now 



that they support some trees. But 1 rather suspect that you are 
nervous about coming to Korchula and do not want to face it 
until the last moment.” " Well, neither I do,” I admitted. “ I 
must own that I am seriously nervous about it, because 1 can’t 
believe that it had quite the revelatory quality I thought it had 
last year. You see, I passed it on my way from Split to Dubrov- 
nik last year. I had been asleep on one of the benches on deck, 
and I woke suddenly to find that we were lying beside the quay 
of a little walled town which was the same creamy-fawn colour 
as some mushrooms and some puppies. It covered a low, 
rounded peninsula and was surmounted by a church tower, 
rising from it like a pistil from a flower ; and its walls girt it 
so massively that they might have been thought natural cliffs 
if a specially beautiful Lion of St. Mark had not certified them 
as works of art. 

” Standing on the quayside was a crowd which was more 
male in quantity and in quality than we are accustomed to in 
Western Europe. There were very few women, and the men 
were very handsome with broad shoulders and long legs and 
straight hair, and an air of unashamed satisfaction with their 
own good looks which one finds only where there is very little 
homosexuality. The faces of the crowd were turned away from 
the steamer. They were all staring up a street that ran down 
the steepness of the town to the quay. Presently there was a 
hush, all the window-sashes of the quayside houses were thrown 
up, and the crowd shuffled apart to make a clear avenue to the 
gangway. Then there came out of the street and along this 
alley four men carrying a stretcher on which there lay a girl of 
about sixteen. The air was so still that there could be heard the 
quick padding of the stretcher-bearers’ feet on the dust, and as 
they left the street its mouth filled up with people who stood 
gaping after them. This must have been a notorious tragedy 
in the town, for the girl was extravagantly beautiful, as beautiful 
as Korchula itself, and she was very ill. The shadows on her 
face were blue. She was being taken, a sailor said, to a hospital 
at Dubrovnik, but I am sure not by her own consent. It was 
evident that she had wholly lost the will to live. Her hands lay 
lax and open on the magenta coverlet ; and as they turned her 
stretcher round to manoeuvre it on to the gangway, she opened 
her eyes and looked up at the tall ship in hostility, loathing it 
because it was something and she wanted nothingness. Behind 

2o8 black lamb and GREY FALCON 

her the alley closed, the crowd formed into a solid block and 
stared at us as if we were taking with us a sign and a wonder. 

“ But the crowd divided again. Another four men hurried 
along, bearing this time a chair to which there was strapped an 
old woman, so immensely old that she had nothing to do with 
the substance of flesh ; she seemed to be compounded of 
glittering intelligence and a substance more than bony, re- 
sembling the hard parts of a very aged and gnarled lobster. 
She looked towards the steamer with an air of unconquerable 
appetite. It was something, and therefore better than nothing- 
ness, which was what she feared. When the stretcher-bearers 
halted in manoeuvring up the gangway she rose up in her chair, 
a twisted hieroglyphic expressing the love of life, and uttered 
an angry sound she might have used to a mule that was stopping 
in midstream. 

"Now that was something worth while seeing for itself. But 
it also seemed typical of life in Yugoslavia, in the Balkans, be- 
cause I had been able to see it. In Western Europe or in 
America it would have been highly unlikely that I would see an 
old woman or a young girl who were desperately ill, unless they 
were my relatives or close friends, and then my interest in them 
as individuals would distract my attention from their general 
characteristics. I might have guessed, and indeed had done so, 
from a great many subtle indications, that the appetite for life 
comes in eating, though not by any simple process of taste. Ex- 
perience often causes people to pass an adverse judgment on 
life, and if they fall ill when they still hold this opinion with the 
violence of youth they may die of it, should their personalities 
be vehement enough. But if they live long enough they seem 
to be governed by a kind of second strength, a secret core of 
vitality. There is a Finnish word, sisu, which expresses this 
ultimate hidden resource in man which will not be worsted, 
which takes charge when courage goes and consciousness is 
blackened, which insists on continuing to live no matter what 
life is worth. This may mean only that the skeleton wishes 
to keep its accustomed garment of flesh, that the eyeball 
fears to feel naked without the many-coloured protection of 
sight ; but it might mean that the whole of us knows some 
argument in favour of life which the mind has not yet appre- 
hended. But the point is that here in Yugoslavia I did not have 
to poke about among the detritus of commonplace life to And 



allusions to this process ; an old woman and a young girl came 
out into the street and gave a dramatic rendering of it in the 
presence of the people. It is that quality of visibility that makes 
the Balkans so specially enchanting, and it was at Korchula 
that I had the first intimations of it. So naturally I am alarmed 
lest I find the town not so beautiful as I had supposed, and life 
in the Balkans precisely the same as everywhere else.” 

Korchula I 

We found, however, that I was perfectly right about Kor- 
chula. “ And let that be enough for you,” said my husband. 
" As for your other demands that from now on every day will 
be an apocalyptic revelation, I should drop that, if I were you. 
You might not like it even if you got it.” We were talking as 
we unpacked in the room we had taken in the hotel on the quay, 
which is either a converted Venetian palace or built by one 
accustomed to palaces frorn birth. A good hotel, it showed that 
expiatory cleanliness which is found sometimes in Southern 
countries ; from early in the morning till late at night, women 
were on their knees in the corridors as if in prayer, scrubbing 
and scrubbing, and murmuring to themselves through com- 
pressed lips. It was scented with the classic kitchen smell of 
the Mare Internum, repellent only to the effete, since it asserts 
that precious plants can live on waterless and soilless country, 
that even after centuries of strife and misery woman still keeps 
the spirit to put a pinch of strong flavour in the cook-pot, 
and that it takes the supreme assault of urban conditions to 
bring on humanity the curse of a craving for insipidity. Our 
fellow-guests were a couple of men as floridly grave as wreathed 
Caesars, and their two ladies, both in cloaks, who might have 
been travelling for the same romantic and detective reasons as 
Donna Anna and Donna Elvira : ornaments of the Sushak wine 
trade and their wives. 

“ I will lie down and sleep for half an hour,” I said, looking 
at the clean coarse sheets, bluish and radiant with prodigious 
laundering. ” I will sit here and look at the maps,” said my 
husband, who is much given to that masculine form of auto- 
hypnosis. But we did neither of these things, for there was a 
knock at the door and an announcement that two gentlemen of 


the town, who had received a letter about us from a friend at 
Split, were waiting for us downstairs. We had no idea who 
these people might be. My husband imagined mild antiquaries 
living among the ruins of Korchula like ageing doves ; I thought 
of mildewed Irish squires. We went downstairs and found two 
handsome men in early middle-age telling the hotel-keeper’s 
wife to be sure to cook us a good Ash for dinner that night, and 
give us a certain red wine grown on the island, and it was as 
if we looked on a Venetian picture come to life, for the heads 
of all were bowed intently towards the argument, the men’s 
gestures were wide and made from expanded chests, the woman 
promised them obedience with the droop of her whole body. 
Of the men one had the great head and full body of a Renaissance 
Cardinal, the other had the rejecting crystal gaze of a Sitwell. 
They dismissed the hotel-keeper’s wife with a National Gallery 
gesture and turned to welcome us. They told us that they would 
be pleased to act as our guides in the town, and would start now 
if we wished with any destination we pleased. We expressed 
our gratitude, and said that we would leave it to them where 
we should go. The gentleman with the Sitwell gaze then said : 
“ Perhaps you would like to see our new steam bakery.” 

Neither myself nor my husband replied. We both sank into 
a despondent reverie, wondering why he should think we wanted 
to see a new steam bakery. We could only suppose that to him 
we were representatives of a Western civilisation that was ob- 
sessed with machinery, and perhaps he suspected us of thinking 
for that reason that in Dalmatia they ate no bread, or only bread 
prepared in a filthy way. Fortunately the one who looked like 
a Cardinal blanketed the topic by saying, not accurately, " Ah, 
but you will have seen many, many steam bakeries ; you would 
like better to see our old churches and palaces.” 

We walked along the quay that runs round the point of the 
little peninsula, following the walls, and then went up a steep 
little street, close-packed with palaces, which thrust out balconies 
to one another or were joined by bridges, into the town. We 
found it like a honeycomb ; it was dripping with architectural 
richness, and it was laid out in an order such as mathematicians 
admire. But its spirit was riotous, the honey had fermented 
and turned to mead. The men who accompanied us had fine 
manners, and only by a phrase or two did they let us gather 
that they appreciated how beautiful Korchula must seem to 


us because they had known tlie great towns of the West, Berlin 
and Paris, and found them filthy ; but they were not exquisites, 
they were robust. They climbed the steep streets at a great 
rate, telling us the historic jokes of the town with gusts of 
laughter, and apologising for the silence that they shattered by 
owning that the city had never repopulated itself after the attack 
of plague in the sixteenth century, that had taken five thousand 
citizens out of seven thousand. The one that looked like a 
Renaissance Cardinal had a peculiarly rich and rolling laugh, 
in which there seemed to join amusement at a particular fact 
with extreme satisfaction with life in general. Bringing us to 
a small square in front of the Cathedral, which was smoothly 
paved and therefore had that air of being within the confines 
of some noble household, he said, “ Here we have always 
walked and talked, and often we have talked too loud. That 
is one thing that never changes, our archives are full of the 
priests’ complaints that we talked so loud out here that they 
could not hear themselves saying mass in the Cathedral.” His 
laughter rolled. ” Also we played ball,” said the Sitwell ; 
" they complained of that also.” " That leads to the story of 
Jacopo Faganeo,” said the Cardinal. “ He was a seventeenth- 
century Tuscan priest who was a very great preacher, but a 
very good companion too. The Admiral in command of the 
Venetian fleet in the Adriatic got him to take a cruise with him, 
and when they got here the sailors came ashore, even to the 
Admiral and his friends, and we townsmen challenged them to 
a game of ball. Nobody was such a good ballplayer as this 
priest, so he tucked up his gown and gave a wonderful display, 
and we all cheered him. But this scandalised our local priests, 
and when Lent came along they refused to let Father Jacopo 
preach in the Cathedral, though he was still here with the fleet. 
However, soon after our Bishop died, and the Admiral, who had 
the Pope’s ear, paid out our priests by getting Father Jacopo 
appointed to fill his place. And a very good Bishop he was, 

Then the square must have rung with laughter, with the 
laughter of strong men ; but it always knew that there was 
darkness as well as light. Above the ball-players rose the 
Cathedral, which is girafflsh because of the architect’s conscious- 
ness that he must work on a minute site, but which owes its 
strangeness of appearance to the troubled intricacy of the 



ornamentation, loaded with tragic speculations of the Slav mind. 
For Korchula, like Trogir, is an intensely Slav town. The 
degree of the oddity of this ornament can be measured by the 
sculpture which projects from the gable above the central door 
and rose window. It is a powerfully realistic bust of a richly 
decked old woman, not a grotesque, but far too passionate to 
be, as some suppose, merely the representation of a fourteenth- 
century Queen of Hungary who gave money to the Church. 
It has the same Dostoevsky quality as Radovan’s work at 
Trogir. Perhaps it was to exorcise this note of metaphysical 
fantasy that a nineteenth-century Bishop made a jigsaw puzzle 
of the inside of the Cathedral, interchanging the parts and put- 
ting in a horrid but matter-of-fact pulpit. But the outside 
remains enigmatic in its beauty, partly because it looks across 
the square to the roofless ruin of the palace, wild-eyed with 
windows whose marble traceries are outlined against the sky, 
wild-haired with the foliage of trees that had taken root in the 
angles of the upper storey and grew slantwise out of balconies. 

“ What is that ? " said the Cardinal. " Regrettably enough 
it is the home of my family. We burned it to disinfect it, in the 
sixteenth century, after many of our household had died in the 
plague, and we have never had the money to rebuild it. But 
now 1 will show you another church which you ought to see.” 
It was at the foot of one of the steep streets, a church where 
the Gothic was melting into the Renaissance, where the archi- 
tectural spring was over and the summer was warm and drowsy. 
These people could look on this summer-time with much more 
satisfaction than we could, for they knew nothing of the winter- 
time that had followed it with us, they were unaware of Regent 
Street. But they were specially pleased with this church for 
another reason which had nothing to do with architecture. 
They told us that this church was in the care of a confraternity 
and began to explain to us what these confraternities were ; 
but when they found out that we already knew, they stopped 
and said no more. They did not tell us that they themselves 
belonged to this confraternity ; but that was evident. With the 
ease of men who were showing strangers round their own 
house they took us up a staircase and over a bridge across an 
alley into the room where the confraternity kept its records and 
its treasures. There we all sat down, and they smiled about 
them, gentle and secret smiles. Here they came for the benefit 




of magic, and enjoyed a mystical, uplifting version of the 
pleasures of brotherhood. The room was itself an astonish- 
ment. It was hung with a score or so of Byzantine ikons, in 
the true colours of ikons, that is to say of flame and smoke ; 
with the true message of ikons, that is to say of spirit rising from 
matter with the precise yet immaterial form of a flame. Of 
these they said, smiling at their own history, “ You see, we are 
a very pious people — all of us — even our sailors.” These 
had, in fact, been looted by good Catholic Korchulans on 
expeditions that may sometimes have been certified as naval, 
but were sometimes plainly piratical, from Orthodox shrines. 
“ People come here and try to buy them,” said the Cardinal 
lazily, and laughed into his hand, while his awed eye raked 
them and found them valid magic. 

“ But some day there will be no question of our being poor 
people who can be tempted by foreigners to part with their 
goods,” said the Sitwell. “ Nor will we need the tourist traffic 
though the money will come in welcome,” said the Cardinal ; 
" we shall be able to live exactly like other people, on our 
production, when we have repaired the wrongs that the Venetians 
and Austrians have done to us. We are not only sailors, we 
are shipbuilders. But of course we need more wood. We have 
a lot for Dalmatia, more than you will find on the other islands 
you have seen, but we still have not enough. Come and see 
what we are doing about that.” We went from a gate on the 
landward side of the town, down a superb stone staircase, and 
we found ourselves in a motor bus full of people who knew our 
guides and were known by them, who by some miraculous 
adjustment deferred to them and yet behaved as their equals. 
It was going to a village on the top of the mountain lying south 
of Korchula, and we left it as it got to the foothills, to take a 
path into a pinewood. Soon the Cardinal stopped and laid 
his hand on the thick trunk of a tall pine and said, " These 
trees were planted by my grandfather when he was mayor ” ; 
and later, in a further valley he stopped by a slenderer trunk in 
a lower, thinner wood, and said, “ These trees were planted by 
my father when he was mayor.” And later still in the crease 
of a spur that stretched towards an unmedicined barrenness, 
dull ochre rock save for the slightly different monotone of the 
scrub, we came to a plantation of pine saplings, hardiy hip. 
high. " These are the trees 1 have planted, now I am mayor,” 

VOL. 1 p 


he said. He stood among them spreading his arms wide above 
them, laughing lazily, “ Have I not poor spindly children ? 
But they will grow." 

On our way back through the denser pinewoods we came to 
a terrace, where there were tables and benches for people to sit 
and eat on their Sunday walks, and because we were tired, 
having started on our journey in the early morning, we asked 
if we might rest there for a little. So we sat down on one 
side of the table, and they on the other, and they told us what 
they hoped to do for the reafforestation of the island and 
how the Government had helped them. Then they spoke of 
how the Venetians had cut down the woods, and how little the 
Austrians had done to replace them ; and as they talked these 
men, who were essentially aristocrats, assumed the sullenness 
and shabbiness of conspirators. They muttered bitterly into 
their fingers, their underlips came forward. Then the Cardinal, 
suddenly noble once more, looked up at the sky through the 
trees and cried, “ It is better now, it is still difficult, but the 
chief offence has been removed ; we are free, and the work goes 
well. Are you rested ? Shall we return ? ” 

We went all the way back on foot, first by an inlet edged 
with prosperous modern villas, belonging to rich Croats, and 
then by a road that would have seemed dusty if it had not 
passed a monument that flattered my pride. By a very pretty 
semicircle of stone seats, conceived in the neo-classical tradition, 
was a tablet giving thanks to the English troops who occupied 
the island when the French were driven out, and governed it 
for two years till the Peace of 1815 handed it over with the rest 
of Dalmatia to Austria. We English were then a different 
breed. We could build. We could administer. We gave 
these islands a democratic institution which they thoroughly 
enjoyed and followed the French tradition of efficient public 
works by making good roads and harbours. Now we would 
build tin huts all over the place, would have been compelled 
from Downing Street to kick the natives in the face for fear of 
encouraging revolutionary movements which did not in fact 
exist, and would have ended up with the evil reputation of 
oppressors without any of the fruits of oppression. 

Something has changed us. The life we lead does not suit 
us. I knew it a few minutes later when we were back in 
Korchula, and our guides took us into one of the shipyards on 



the shore. We went through a yard stacked with wood, that 
clean, moral substance, and carpeted with shavings, into a shed 
where three men stood contemplating the unfinished hull of a 
motor boat. The overlapping timbers were as neat as the 
feathers on a bird’s wing, the shape was neat as a bird in flight. 
It was a pity that so much beauty should be hidden under the 
water. Of the three men in front of it one held up a blueprint 
very steadily, another held a rule to the boat and made measure- 
ments ; the other watched and spoke with authority. They 
were all three beautiful, with thick straight fair hair and bronze 
skins and high cheek-bones pulling the flesh up from their 
large mouths, with broad chests and long legs springing from 
arched feet. These were' men, they could beget children on 
women, they could shape certain kinds of materials for purposes 
that made them masters of their worlds. I thought of two 
kinds of men that the West produces : the cityish kind that 
wears spectacles without shame, as if they were the sign of 
quality and not a defect, who is overweight and puffy, who can 
drive a car but knows no other mastery over material, who 
presses buttons and turns switches without comprehending the 
result, who makes money when the market goes up and loses it 
when the market goes down ; the high-nosed young man, who 
is somebody’s secretary or in the Foreign Office, who has a 
peevishly amusing voice and is very delicate, who knows a 
great deal but far from all there is to be known about French 
pictures. I understand why we cannot build, why we cannot 
govern, why we bear ourselves without pride in our inter- 
national relations. It is not that all Englishmen are like that, 
but that too many of them are like that in our most favoured 

It is strange, it is heartrending, to stray into a world where 
men are still men and women still women. I felt apprehensive 
many times in Korchula, since I can see no indications that the 
culture of Dalmatia is going to sweep over the Western world, 
and I can see many reasons to fear that Western culture will in 
the long run overwhelm Dalmatia. We crossed the road from 
the shipyard to call on an elderly woman who lived in a house 
which, a bourgeois kind of palace, had belonged to her husband’s 
family for four hundred years. We were taken through a finely 
vaulted passage to the garden, where we stood under a pergola 
of wistaria and looked up at the tracery of the windows which 

2i6 black lamb and GREY FALCON 

were greatly enriched by the salty weathering of the stone to an 
infinity of fine amber and umber tones ; for we had been asked 
to wait till she had finished some pious business she was perform- 
ing in the private chapel which stood, an arched and pointed 
outhouse, among the crowded flowers, close to a niched wall 
that sheltered a Triton and a nymph. On the steps of the 
chaptel there lay some candles and a match-box and a packet of 
washing soda on a sheet of newspaper. For a second I took 
this as an indication that the family fortunes were in decline, 
but on reflection I wondered what evidence I had that palaces 
had ever been neat. All historical memoirs portray a union 
between the superb and the sluttish ; and probably tidiness is a 
creation of the middle classes, who have had their tendency to 
bare and purging Protestantism reinforced by their panic- 
stricken acceptance of the germ theory. Boucher’s famous 
portrait of Madame Pompadour reveals that even she, who was 
the ideal civil servant, kept her personal possessions lying about 
on the floor. The homely disorder on the chapel steps was 
therefore simply a proof that this establishment was not yet a 

At length the lady of the house came out of the private 
chapel, followed by the kitchen smells of piety, not less powerful 
and classic than the kitchen smells of our hotel. She was elderly, 
though not old ; and it could be seen that she had been very 
lovely : and immediately she began to flirt with my husband. 
She knew with absolute realism, and had known it, I am sure, 
from the first moment when the knowledge became necessary 
to her, that she was too old for love. But she knew that a repeti- 
tion of the methods by which she had charmed the hearts and 
intelligences of the men of her time would give him the same 
pleasure an enthusiastic theatre-goer would feel if a famous old 
actress rehearsed for him her celebrated performance of Juliet. 
Therefore we enjoyed again the gaieties in which her voice and 
face and body had combined to promise her admirers that not 
only she but all her life was infinitely and unpredictably agree- 
able. After there had been a long rally of teasing compliment 
and mockery, a bell tolled somewhere in the town, and we all 
stopped to listen. 

When it ceased there was a silence. My husband breathed 
deeply, warmed and satisfied by her aged and now sexless charm 
as one might be by a wine so old that all the alcohol had disap- 



peared, and said, “ It is wonderfully quiet.” She abandoned 
her performance and said to him not sentimentally but with an 
almost peevish recollection of past enjo}nnent, as one might say 
that in one’s youth one had cared greatly for racing but could 
no longer get about to the meetings, " It’s too quiet. I liked 
it when there were children about, laughing, and then crying, 
and then laughing again. That’s how it ought to be in a house.” 
She spoke with complete confidence, as one who expresses an 
opinion held by all the world. A house with children is better 
than a house without children. That she assumed to be an 
axiom, on that she had founded all her life and pride. It was 
as if she were a child herself, a fragile child who had escaped 
death by a miracle and was boasting of its invulnerability to all 
ills. Her life had for the most part been secure because in her 
world men had been proud to be fathers, and had marvelled 
gratefully at women for being fine-wrought enough to make 
the begetting of children an excitement and sturdy enough to 
bear them and rear them, and had thought of the mother of 
many children as the female equivalent of a rich man. Because 
these masculine attitudes had favoured her feminine activities, 
her unbroken pride was lovely as the trumpet of a lily. It might 
have been different for her if she had been born into a society 
where men have either lost their desire for children, or are pre- 
vented from gratifying it by poverty or the fear of war. There 
she would have been half hated and perhaps more than half, for 
her sex. Her womb, which here was her talisman, would have 
been a source of danger, which might even strike at the very root 
of her primal value, and one day make her husband feel that the 
delight he had known with her was not worth the price he must 
pay for it. It was terrible that this fate, even if it had failed to 
engulf her, was certain to annihilate many of her blood, of her 
kind, and that the threat was implicit in many statements that 
she made without a shadow of apprehension, as when she told 
us that her husband and all his forebears had been sea captains, 
and that her sons were still of the tradition and not of it, for they 
were agents for great steamship lines. 

The Cardinal said to me, ” You are looking very tired. Be- 
fore I take you to our house to meet my parents, we will go to a 
cafe on the quay, and you can rest.” This seemed to me a 
peculiar programme, but it was agreeable enough. As we drank 
very good strong coffee the two men talked again of trees : of 

2i8 black lamb and GREY FALCON 

the possibility of making many motor boats for the new tourist 
traffic, of the fishing fleets, of the wrong Italians had done by 
seizing the southward island, Lagosta, where the fish are 
specially plentiful. " The Slavs all left it when the Treaty 
was known," said the Sitwell. “ And they have not been able 
to repopulate it with Italians," said the Cardinal, " for they are 
idiots, worse than the Austrians. Think of it, they wanted to 
colonise the island with Italian fishermen and they renamed it 
after an Italian airman who had been killed. Think of doing a 
silly thing like that, when you’re dealing with peasants. It’s 
such a silly townsman’s trick." His great laughter rolled up 
out of him. “ You’re accustomed to deal politically with people 
in person,” said my husband. “ That is a funny idea, for us. 
Not by the million, through newspapers and the radio, or by 
the thousand or hundred in halls, but just in person." The 
Cardinal answered modestly, " One does what one can, in order 
not to be destroyed. But come and see my father, who is 
cleverer at it than I am.” 

We went back into the town, and had but one more digres- 
sion. The Cardinal whisked us into a courtyard gorgeous with 
two balustraded galleries. Because it was an orphanage there 
projected between the pillarets the grave puppy-snouts of in- 
terested infant Slavs, while above them were the draperies and 
blandness of young nuns. The presence of the Cardinal pro- 
duced a squealing babble of homage from the orphans, and the 
wheeling and bowing courtesies of the nuns recalled the evolu- 
tions of angels. The institution wailed its disappointment as 
we left, and the Cardinal hurried us round a corner up another 
street, into the medievalism of his home. 

The courtyard was dark with its own shadows as well as the 
dusk, and ghostly with the pale light filtering down from the 
still sunlit upper air, through the gutted palace, burned because 
of the plague, which formed its fourth side. It looked even 
more fantastic than we had thought it in the Cathedral square. 
At a window on its ground floor a tree stood like a woman look- 
ing into the courtyard, and on the floors above trees, some of 
them clothed with blossom which in this uncertain light was 
the colour of a grey Persian cat, shot forth from the empty 
sockets of vanished rafters in the attitudes of acrobats seeking 
the trapeze. The courtyard itself spoke of something even older 
than this palace, for it was full of carved stone ; slabs bearing 



inscriptions or low reliefs had been let into its walls, and there 
set about many statues and fragments of statues, some of 
which were Roman. It held as well an infinity of growing 
things, of flowers bursting from a lead cistern and a sarco- 
phagus, full-fleshed leafy plants and bronze-backed ferns, a 
great many of them in little pots hung on lines of string secured 
to details of sculpture. We were reminded of what we had 
sometimes forgotten during this water-logged spring, that this 
was the far South, accustomed to seasons when grass is a recol- 
lected miracle and everything that can be coaxed to grow in a 
flowerpot is a token and a comfort. On the other side of the 
courtyard, facing the ruin, was another palace, also Venetian 
Gothic and of the fifteenth century, but intact. Its great door 
was open, and showed a dark room and another beyond it that 
was lit by the soft white light of a chandelier. Towards this 
reserved and even defensive interior the Cardinal now led us. 
But I delayed to admire the richness of a design impressed on 
the lead cistern, and he told me, " Those are the arms of my 
family. But now we do not use such cisterns. We have modem 
methods. See, there is a great cistern under this courtyard.” 
He brought down his heel on the pavement, making a sharp 
ringing noise that sent a little bird whirring out of one of the 
plants back to its home in the ruined palace. " Trees and 
water,” said the Sitwell, “ they are more precious to us on the 
island than gold.” “ We will have all we want of them under 
Yugoslavia,” said the Cardinal. 

We paused again at the door to handle the great knocker, 
which was perhaps by Giovanni Bologna : it was a Neptune 
between two rear-uplifted dolphins, magnificent whatever hand 
had made it. Inside we found the same vein of magnificence, 
though the proportions here, as everywhere else in the city, were 
constrained by a want of space ; and the furniture showed the 
influence of nineteenth-century Italy and Austria, which was 
not without a chignoned and crinolined elegance, but was 
coarsened by the thick materiab it employed, the chenille and 
rep, the plush and horsehair. In the second room, at a table 
under the chandelier, sat a white-haired lady, in her sixties, 
dressed in a black velvet gown. From the stateliness of her 
gfreeting we understood why her son had taken us to rest at a 
caf6 before he brought us into her house. The social life in this 
palace was extremely formal, that is to say we were expected 


to play our part in a display of the social art in its highest sense, 
the art of meeting people with whom one may have little or 
nothing in common and distilling the greatest possible pleasant- 
ness out of the contact without forcing an unreal intimacy. But 
it was light as air, weightless swordsmanship. The old lady first 
addressed herself to me with a maternal air that was flattering 
yet not indecently so, as if the gulf of years between us were 
greater than it actually was, but not impossibly great. Then, 
like the lady in the sea captain’s palace, she began to address 
herself to my husband for the excellent reason that she was a 
woman and he was a man. The performance she gave, however, 
was probably not modified by time : for the difference in their 
social status meant that though all her life she must have taken 
for granted that her beauty was a beacon before the eyes of 
men, it must have also been her faith that all its sexual implica- 
tions, to the remotest, must be private to her immediate family 
The sea captain’s widow was certainly chaste as snow, but it 
was probable that many men had looked on her and thought it 
a pity that she was not their wife ; but this lady was to such an 
extreme degree the wife of her husband, the queen of this palace, 
that she was withdrawn from even such innocent and respectful 
forms of desire. She made, therefore, since her career was to 
be a wife and a mother, an exclusively feminine appeal, but it 
was remote, ethereal, almost abstract. 

When her husband came he proved to be as noble-looking 
as she was ; a slender bearded man, with a wolfish alertness 
odd in a man of his type. It was like seeing Lord Cecil with 
the springy gait of a matador. He apologised at once, in Italian, 
for having spoken to his son in Serbo-Croat as he entered the 
room. “ I am afraid,” he said, “ we had better converse in 
Italian, but I hope you will not take it as a proof of the truth of 
the Italian lie that we are Italian on this coast by race and in 
language. That is propaganda, and mendacious for that. They 
have the impudence to deny us our blood and our speech, and 
they have never minded what lies they told. One of them has even 
inconvenienced us to the point of having to change our name. 
It happened that though we are pure Slavs our name originally 
ended in -i, which is not a Slav but an Italian termination, for a 
surname, for the reason that in the sixteenth century we chose 
to be known by the Christian name of a member of our family 
who was a great hero and was killed by the Turks while he was 



defending Candia. This circumstance, which was to our glory, 
the Italians attempted to turn to our shame, by pretending that 
our name proved that we, one of the leading patrician families 
of Korchula, were of Italian origin. There is no infamy to 
which they will not stoop.” 

At that point a decanter of wine and some little cakes were 
brought in, and we drank to one another’s health. My husband 
explained what a pleasure it was for us to meet them and to see 
their historic home. It was strange that when they answered 
they seemed not more proud of the stone glories of their palace 
than of the little ferns in the pots on the string lines. " Once,” 
said the old gentleman, a gleam coming into his eye, " I had 
birds as well as plants in my courtyard.” His son began to 
laugh, the old lady held her handkerchief to her lips and pouted 
and shook her head from side to side. “ Very beautiful they 
looked in their cages, and they sang like angels,” went on the 
old gentleman severely. “ But my wife did not like having 
them there. She did not like it at all. And that is why they are 
not there now. Shall I tell the story, Yelitsa ? Shall I tell the 
story ? Yes, I had better tell the story. It is something the like 
of which they will never have heard ; never will they have heard 
of a woman behaving so wickedly.” 

We were evidently being admitted to a favourite family joke. 
“ Think of it,” he told us with much mock horror, “ we were 
entertaining a large company of friends in the courtyard on 
Easter morning, as is our custom. Suddenly my ■wife rose and 
began to walk from cage to cage, opening all the doors and 
saying ‘ Christ is risen, the whole world is rejoicing, rejoice thou 
also, bird, and fly away home ! ’ And as it was an assembly, I 
could not jump up and chastise her, and our friends sat and 
smiled, thinking this was some graceful pious comedy, suitable 
for Easter. Did ever a woman play such a trick on her husband ? 
I ask you, sir, did your wife ever play such a trick on you ? ” 
Her husband, and indeed all of us, gazed at her in adoration 
through our laughter, and she shrugged her shoulders and said 
comfortably, “ Well, birds in cages, that is something 1 do not 

But in no time we were back in the conflict of Dalmatia 
with history. The old gentleman said to us, “ I think you will 
enjoy your travels amongst us. But you must make allowances 
We are in some respects still barbarous simply because we 



spent so much of our time defending the West. We fought the 
Turk, and then we fought the Turk, and then we fought the 
Turk. For that reason we could not throw off the tyranny of 
Venice, so that it was able to use us as a deathbed, to use 
our life as a mattress for its decay. The French were better, 
but they brought with them their taint of revolution. There 
were some sad scenes, here and in Trogir especially, where the 
doctrines of Jacobinism caused revolt. But of your countrymen 
we have only the happiest recollections. Alas, that the peace 
treaty of 1815 should have made the mistake of handing us 
over to the Austrian Empire, that unnecessary organisation, 
which should have ceased to exist after the destruction of the 
Turks, and which survived only to cultivate grossness and 
frivolity at the expense of her superior subject races.” “ The 
Austrians were the worst oppressors of all that we have known," 
said his son, " For Venice was a dying power during much of 
her reign over us, and had not the energy to conquer our spirit. 
But Austria felt in excellent health till the beginning of the 
Great War, and when she kicked us there was plenty of force 
in the boot." ‘ Four generations of us were under Austria,” 
said his father, " and always we rebelled against them for that 
very reason. Not out of their poverty but out of their wealth 
the Austrians would not plant our ruined forests, would not 
give us water, and taxed salt, so that our fisheries could not 
preserve their fish ; and they hated those of us who were fortunate 
but defended the cause of our less fortunate fellow-Slavs.” 
“ But it is excessively hard on women," said his wife, addressing 
me, “ when the men are for ever busying themselves with 

The old gentleman regarded her tenderly. " My wife 
pretends to be frivolous," he said, “ but she is really true to the 
courageous tradition of Dalmatian womanhood, which indeed 
has been carried on with peculiar glory in Korchula. In 1571, 
when we had been abandoned by our cur of a Venetian governor, 
who ran away to Zara, and all our men were fighting at sea, a 
garrison of women and children successfully defended the town 
against the infamous Turkish corsair, Uliz AH, who by the way 
was no Turk, but a renegade, simply another of those Italians. 
I can say that my wife has been a worthy successor to those 
women, for I have never known her flinch before danger.” 
" Perhaps I do not,” she said, “ but all the samq^ it has some- 



times been very boring." Nevertheless, I couid see his view of 
her was the truth. Her standard expression was one I had seen 
before, on the faces of women whose husbands had been pre- 
war Russian revolutionaries, or Spanish Liberals under Alfonso. 
The eyebrows were slightly raised, so that the space between 
them was fairly smooth, and the eyelids were lowered : so people 
look when they expect at any moment to receive a heavy blow 
in the face. But her chin was tilted forward, her lips were 
resolutely curved in a smile : she mocked the giver of the blow 
before he gave it, and removed her soul to a place where he 
could not touch it. " Were you ever frightened ? ” I asked. 
“ Again and again I had reason to be, on account of the way 
my husband behaved,” she replied. “ But I thank God that 
by the time my sons were men we were safe under Yugoslavia.” 

" You hear in her words what Yugoslavia means to us 
Dalmatians,” said the old gentleman. Then he paused. I 
felt he was searching for words to say something that had been 
in his mind since he set eyes on us, and that he found intensely 
disagreeable. “ I am glad,” he continued, “ that you have 
come to see our Yugoslavia. But I think you have come to 
see it too soon. It is w'hat I have fought for all my life, and it 
is what must be, and, as my wife tells you, it already means a 
security such as we have never known before, not since the 
beginning of time. But you must remember what Cavour 
said : ‘ Now there is an Italy, but we have not yet got Italians.' 
It is so with us. We have the machinery of the State in Yugo- 
slavia, but we have not yet learned how to work it. We have 
many amongst us who do not understand its possibilities, who 
are unaware of . . ." — his hands moved in distress — " of 
what it should be to us Slavs.” He began to speak in a slow, 
braked tone, of the Croatian discontent, and of the Matchek 
movement ; and it was clear from his son’s uneasiness and the 
muting of his wife’s gaiety, that this household felt itself still 
girt by enemies, and that this last encirclement was harder to 
bear than any of the others, since these enemies were of their 
own blood. These people had remembered they were Slavs 
for a thousand years, in spite of the threats of Empire, and 
had believed they could not hate their fellow-Slavs. But now 
they saw their fellow-Slavs conspiring against Yugoslavia and 
giving Italy its opportunity to impose itself again as their 
oppressor, it seemed to them that they must hate them, must 



exterminate them without pity, as in the past they had ex- 
terminated renegades of their race who went over to the Turks. 

The old gentleman was saying, " You will find it hard to 
believe, but there are those amongst us who are so misguided 
as to wish to alienate the Croats from our fellow-Slavs, the 
Serbs ; and indeed there are very great differences between us 
and the Serbs, differences of manners due to the unfortunate 
circumstance that they suffered what we did not, centuries of 
enslavement by the Turks. But they are not only brothers, 
they have given us enormous gifts. 1 remember that many 
years ago your admirable Professor Seton-Watson came to 
stay with me here, and he said to me, ' You are insane to think 
of complete Slav independence, all you can hope for is full 
rights for the Slavs as citizens within the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire ; it is far too strong for any of the Slav powers.’ But 
then he came back early in 1914, just after Serbia had beaten 
Turkey in the Balkan war, and he said, ' Now it is different. 
When I see what the Serbs have done against Turkey, I am not 
at all sure that the Serbs and the Czechs and you Croats will 
not beat the Austro-Hungarian Army.’ He spoke truly. It 
was the triumph of the Serbs that gave us hope. I find it there- 
fore disgusting that over a slight affair of manners people should 
disdain their liberators.” He spoke as a clear-cut man of action, 
used to making clear-cut decisions, used to arriving at clear- 
cut computations which are necessary before a compromise can 
be arranged. Not in a thousand years would he understand the 
Croatian world, which had been diluted by the German poison, 
which was a platform of clouds for drifting personalities, Slav 
in essence but vague in substance, unclimactic in process. 

“ And this Matchek movement,” cried the old gentleman, “ is 
Bolshevist ! It is Communist ! What is all this nonsense about 
the necessity for a social revolution ? If there is work the work 
people earn wages and benefit. What other economic problem 
is there beyond this ? If we can build up our fisheries and our 
shipbuilding on Korchula, then our islanders will have plenty 
of money and have all they want. What more is there to say 
about it ? ” He looked at us with the eye of an old eagle that 
is keeping up its authority, yet fears that he may be wrong. 
He knew that what he was saying was not quite right, but he 
did not know in what it was wrong. We thought that his pre- 
dicament was due to his age, but when we looked at his son 



we found precisely the same expression on his face. He said, 
without his usual authority, “ This is all the work of agitators, 
such as Mussolini used to be.'* He probably alluded to the 
fact that when Mussolini was a Socialist he once organised a 
dock strike at Split. The experience of these people was very 

But in one respect it was very poor. They laboured, I saw, 
under many advantages — innate gifts, a traditional discipline 
which had been so ferociously applied through the centuries to 
cowards -and traitors that courage and loyalty now seemed theirs 
of birthright, a devotion to public interest which made them 
almost as sacred as priests. But they laboured under one dis- 
advantage. The ideas of the French Revolution had never been 
talked out in this part of the world. A touch of the Jacobin 
fever had reached Dalmatia when it was still under Venice, 
and had been drastically cured, first by the Venetians and later 
by the French. The year 1848 had brought a revival of re- 
volutionary ideas to all Europe, but not to Dalmatia and Croatia, 
because the Hungarian uprising had taken an anti-Slav turn 
under Kossuth, and the Croats were obliged to offend their 
racial interests by fighting for the Hapsburgs and reaction. 
Nobody in these parts, therefore, had ever discussed the pos- 
sibility that the doctrine of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity 
might be an admirable prescription to maintain the peace in an 
expanding industrial civilisation. They had no means of under- 
standing those believers in their doctrine who have discovered 
that it is impossible to guarantee liberty, equality or fraternity 
to every member of a community while some members hold 
economic power over others, and who now demand a redistribu- 
tion of wealth. This family took all the pother for a modern 
version of something which as Korchulan patricians they under- 
stood quite well : a plebeian revolt. Without a qualm they 
would resist it, for they knew what the people really wanted, 
and were doing their best to get it for them as fast as possible. 
Water, that was what they needed, and trees. Innocent in their 
misapprehension, bright with charity and public spirit, but 
puzzled by the noise of some distant riot for which their intimate 
knowledge of the civic affairs had not prepared them, the 
father and mother and son sat in the white circle under the 
chandelier, the darkness in the courtyard beyond now entirely 



Korchtda II 

I woke early next morning, and heard Ellen Terry speaking 
as she had spoken at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, when I 
was a little girl. Her voice had lifted imperiously to cry, 
" Kill Claudio 1 " a behest not at all offensive since it was 
essentially just, yet raising certain problems. It was good that 
somebody should speak up for simple dealing with evil, although 
no one who knew all, who had comprehended the whole mystery 
of good and evil, would say it like that. There was perhaps 
something about the family I had visited last night which had 
recalled the speaking of those words. I fell asleep again, and 
was reawakened by the sound of singing, a little rough and 
wolfish for mere gaiety. When I went to the window there 
was a crowd of young men standing on the quay, each carry- 
ing a bundle. “ They must be conscripts," said my husband, 
" waiting for a steamer to take them to the mainland.” “ Yes,” 
I said, " this is the time of year when they start their training. 
And look, they all look oddly shabby for such clean young men. 
They are all brisked up to look their best, but at the same time 
they’ve all come in their old clothes and left their new ones at 
home.” " Let us wash and dress very quickly, and go down 
and have a look at them as they go on board.” 

As we came out of the front door of the hotel, our cups of 
coffee in our hands, a white steamer came round the peninsula, 
lovely as a lady and drunk as a lord. She listed deeply land- 
wards, because she already carried a freight of young men, 
and they had all run to the side to have a look at Korchula. 
" It is the steamer come to take the conscripts away,” said a 
man standing beside us, in English which had been learned in 
America. " Yes,” we said. " They go to do their military 
service now on the mainland,” he continued. ‘‘ Yes,” we said. 
” They go now to do their military service for Yugoslavia,” he 
said, “ but they are good Dalmatians, they are good Croats. 
Those songs you have heard them singing lire all against the 
Government.” He wore a fixed, almost absent-minded smile 
that represented derision grown second-nature, having long 
forgotten its first or any other reason. I remembered something 
Constantine once told me. “ We Slavs love the terrible,” he 
said, “ and it happens that when we feel deeply terrible ex- 



pressions come on our faces. As we love the terrible we keep 
them there, and they become grins, grimaces, masks that mean 
nothing. That is one of the things that has happened among 
the Bolsheviks. Revolution has become a rictus." It has 
perhaps gone wrong here also. 

As the ship drew nearer we heard that the young men 
leaning over the rail were singing just these same angrily 
hopeful songs as the young men on the quay, and by the time 
she came alongside the quay they were joined in one song. Some 
of those on the ship could not wait to land until the gang-plank 
was lowered, and after shouting for the crowd below to fall 
back, they jumped from the rails to the quay, their bodies full 
of a goatish vigour, their faces calm and stubborn and with- 
drawn. They ran past us and came back in an instant carrying 
yard-long loaves under their arms, and stood quietly, rapt in 
the exaltation of having started on a new adventure, behind 
the young men of Korchula, who were standing more restlessly, 
the new adventure not having begun for them, and the distress 
of their families being a disagreeable distraction. Unifying these 
two groups was this dark overhanging cloud of discontented 
song. We went inside the hotel and buttered ourselves second 
rolls, and when we returned the boat had taken aboard its load 
and started out to sea. She was some hundreds of yards from 
the shore, more drunken than ever, listing still deeper with her 
increased freight, which was singing now very loudly and crowd- 
ing to the rails to wave to the residue of their grieving kin, 
who were now moving along the quay to the round towers 
at the end of the peninsula so that they would be able to see 
her again as she left the bay and went out into the main channel ; 
they walked crabwise, with their heads turned sideways, so that 
they should not miss one second’s sight of their beloveds. They 
were obviously much moved by that obscure agony of the 
viscera rather than of the mind or even of the heart, which 
afflicts the human being when its young goes from it over water, 
which Saint Augustine described for ever in his Confessions, in 
his description of how his mother Monica grieved when he took 
sail from Africa to Italy. Presently the ship was gone, and the 
crowd came back, all walking very quickly and looking down- 
wards and wiping their noses. 

We found standing beside us the Cardinal, the Sitwell and a 
handsome lady who was the Sitwell’s wife. It was a pity so 


far as we were concerned, but it threw an interesting light on 
the claims of Italy to Dalmatia, and the real orientation of 
Dalmatia, that this lady spoke no languages but Serbo-Croatian 
and Russian, which she had acquired from a teacher who had 
been at the Tsarina’s boarding school in Montenegro. They 
took us down to a motor boat by the quay, and we went out 
through a blue and white and windy morning for a trip about 
the island. Now the city of Korchula was a goldsmith’s toy, 
a tortoise made of precious metals, sitting on its peninsula as 
on a show-stand, and we were chugging past a suburb of villas, 
pink and white like sugar almonds. We passed a headland or 
two and came to a bay wide enough to be noble, and narrow 
enough to be owned. On its lip was moor and rock, and behind 
them olive terraces and almond orchards rose to scrub and 
bleakness. A track ran up to a high village in a crevice of this 
bleakness, and the Cardinal, laughing, told us that its in- 
habitants plagued the central and the local authorities for a 
better road down to this bay. " And we say, ‘ But why ? You 
have a perfectly good road dowm to Korchula ! ’ And they say, 

‘ But Korchula is not our port. This bay should be our port.’ 
So you see the little world is the same as the big world, and both 
are silly.” 

In that, and a further bay, we made the boat linger. The 
green water glittered clean as ice, but gentle. ” Could we buy 
some land ? ” we asked. " Could we build a villa ? ” It would 
be a folly. To get there from London would take two nights 
and two days by rail and steamer, and I do not suppose that 
either of us would ever be on easy terms with a language we 
had learned so late. But the sweet wildness of these bays, and 
the air rich with sun-baked salt and the scent of the scrub, 
and the view of the small perfect city, made this one of the 
places where the setting for the drama is drama enough. “ Yes, 
you could buy it, yes, you could build,” they said. “ But one 
thing,” said the Cardinal, rather than deceive a stranger, " one 
thing you will not have in abundance. That is water. But 
then you could afford to build yourself a big cistern, and it 
always rains here in w'inter. That is the trouble, things work 
in a circle. People here need water if they are to make money. 
But because they have no money they cannot build cisterns to 
store w’ater. So they cannot make any more money. All that, 
however, we shall settle in time." 



As we set off to the opposite coast, which looked like an 
island but was the peninsula of Pelyesatch, the Korchulans 
still talked of water. We had a great disappointment,” said 
the Sitwell. " Over at Pelyesatch there is a spring of which 
the inhabitants have no very great need, and it was thought 
that we could raise enough money to build a pipe-line across 
this channel to our island. But alas I we discovered at the 
last moment that from time to time, and especially during 
droughts, when we would need it most, the spring ran salt.” 
” You from England,” said the Cardinal, " can have no notion 
of how disappointed we were. Still, we must not complain. 
When the worst comes to the worst, they send us a ship with a 
cargo of water down from Split.” 

As we drew nearer the shore the water under the keel was 
pale emerald, where the diving sunlight had found sand. We 
landed on a little stone quay, where fishermen in a boat with 
a rust-coloured sail called greetings to our friends, as in the 
Middle Ages plebeians who were yet free men would have 
greeted nobles, when the dispensation was working well. We 
stepped out and walked along the coast by a line of small 
houses and gardens and the Cardinal said, ” This is the village 
where all retired sea captains come to live if they can possibly 
manage it.” Sea captains are sensible. There was nothing 
that was not right in this village. There was nothing there 
which was not quietly guided to perfection by a powerful 
tradition. Every house was beautiful, and every garden. And 
they were small, they were not the results of lavish expenditure ; 
and most of them were new, they were not legacies from a 
deceased perfection. 

Even the quite business-like post-office had an air of lovely 
decorum. Its path led through a garden which practised a 
modest and miniature kind of formality, to a small house built 
of this Dalmatian stone which is homely as cheese and splendid 
as marble. Within a cool and clean passage, finely vaulted, was 
blocked by a high stand of painted iron, proper in every twist 
of its design, in which were posed flowers that needed special 
gentleness. A woman, well-mannered and remote, came from 
the back of the house and talked gravely of some local matter 
with the Cardinal, while she plucked me a nosegay with precise 
taste. The people who went by on the road looked like her, the 
houses we had passed had all been like this. Here man was at 

VOL. 1 Q 


ease, he had mastered one part of the business of living so veil 
that it was second nature to him. If we bought that bay over 
on Korchula we would not know what kind of a house to build, 
we would have to take an infinite amount of thought, and our 
success would be a matter of hit and miss ; and we would have 
to think of what we wanted our garden to look like. But these 
people’s culture instructed them exactly how best they might 
live where they must live. 

We went next into the garden of a larger and a grander 
house, which was empty, and from an orange tree the Cardinal 
broke me a branch laden with both fruit and blossom. “ It 
belongs,” he said, looking up at its desolation, " to some Croats, 
who, poor people, bought it to turn into a hotel without reflecting 
that they had no money to rebuild it or run it.” Though he was 
so practical, he spoke of this not unimportant negligence as if 
it were not blameworthy, as if they had just been afflicted with 
this lapse of memory as they might with measles or loss of sight. 
I carried my sceptre of oranges along till we came to a church, 
a little church, the least of churches, that was dwarfed by a 
cypress which was a third of its breadth and a quarter taller, 
and itself was no king of trees. Small as it was, this church was 
recognisably of a superb tradition, and had big brothers that 
were cathedrals. We stood on the lawn admiring its tiny 
grandeur, while the Cardinal, who knew that all things were 
permitted to him everywhere, went to the bell-tower, which 
stood separate, and pulled the rope. While its deep note still 
was a pulse in the air, the Cardinal pointed to the road behind 
us and said, ” Look I There is something you will not often 
see nowadays.” 

An old gentleman was having his walk, neat and clean, with 
white mutton-chop whiskers joining the moustaches that ran 
right across his shining pink face, wearing a short coat and 
sailorly trousers. He had the air of being a forthright and 
sensible person, but time was disguising him, for he had checked 
himself on seeing us from carrying on a conversation with 
certain phantoms, and age forced him to walk drunkenly. 
” Zdravo ! ” said the Cardinal, as is the way of Slavs when 
they meet. ” Flourish I ” it means. '* Zdravo,” the old man 
answered, as from the other side of an abyss. " I told you that 
all retired sea captains wanted to live here. There is one of 
them ; and you may see from his Franz Josef whiskers that he 



was in the Austrian Navy. I think those side-whiskers on such 
an old man are the only things coming from Vienna that I 
really like.” We watched the old man totter on his way, and 
as he forgot us, he resummoned his phantom friends and con- 
tinued their argument. “ God pity us," said the Cardinal, 
” Yugoslavia must be, but it is almost certain that because of 
it there is here and there a good soul who feels like a lost 

The boat took us, for a time round the pale emerald waters 
close to the beach within a stone’s-throw of these houses and 
gardens that would have been theatrical in their perfection if 
they had not been austere. Then we drew further out and saw 
how above this hem of fertility round the shore olive groves and 
almond orchards rose in terraces to bluffs naked except for a 
little scrub, on which rested a plateau with more olives and 
almonds and a scattered blackness of cypresses and some villages 
and churches ; and above this were the naked peaks, reflecting 
the noonlight like a mirror. Then fertility died out. Under 
the bluffs there was now a slope of scrub that sent out a perfume 
which I could smell in spite of the flowering orange branch upon 
my knee ; and then a thick forest of cypresses, which for all 
their darkness and chastity of form presented that extravagant 
appearance that belongs to a profusion of anything that is usually 
scarce. Then the mountains dropped to a bay, a shoulder of 
sheer rock, and on the flat shore lay a pleasant town. " This 
is Orebitch,” said the Cardinal. "Look, there is painted all 
along the pier, ‘ Hail and welcome to the Adriatic It is the 
greeting the town made to our jjoor King Alexander when he 
sailed up this coast on his way to his death at Marseilles. He 
had no time to stop there, so they paid their respects in this 
way.” We murmured our interest and kept our eyes on that 
inscription, and not on the other which some daring young man 
had scratched giant-high on the shoulder of rock above. "Zhive 
Matchek,” it read. Long live Matchek, the enemy of Yugo- 
slavia, the emblem of the economic struggle which awakened 
no sympathy among our friends, though they could feel kindly 
for Croats who bought hotels without the money to run them, 
and for old Austrian naval officers, simply because nothing in 
their experience had prepared them for it. 

Across the channel Korchula’s lovely form was minute and 
mellow gold. We started towards it over a sea that was now 


* 3 * 

brighter emerald, among islets which were scattered pieces of 
Scotland, rugged points of rock and moor with the large air of 
the Grampians though hardly paddock-wide. Our boat could 
slip within a foot or two of them, so deep and calm were the 
waters. Here was one much visited for the seagulls’ eggs. As 
we chugged past the gulls rose and crossed and recrossed the 
sky above us, wailing against us who were their Turks, their 
pirates. At another islet a boat was hauled up on a yard of 
shingle and three fishermen lay sleeping among the scrub, 
bottles and empty baskets beside them. One heard our boat 
and lifted his head. His preoccupied eyes, blinking before the 
noon, found and recognised us ; he raised his hand and said 
" Zdravo I ” in an absent voice, and sank back with an air of 
returning to a more real world. The other two did not wake, 
but stirred defensively, as if guarding their own sleep. 

“ They will have been fishing since dawn, the good lads,” 
said the Sitwell. We passed another and more barren islet 
which rose to a flat top, not broad. Perhaps five fishermen 
might have taken their midday rest there. " Here a famous 
treaty in our history was signed,” said the Cardinal. Men had 
scrambled out of boats on to this stony turret, barbarian and 
jewelled, for this coast was as much addicted to precious stones 
as to violence. Merchants went from island to island, hawking 
pearls and emeralds among the nobles, and the number of 
jewellers in the towns was extraordinary. In Korchula there 
were at one time thirty-two. After a few more such islets we 
came on a larger island, Badia, which illustrated the enigmatic 
quality of Dalmatian life. A monastery stands among its pine- 
woods, where there had been one for nearly a thousand years, 
though not the same one. Again and again men have gone there 
to live the contemplative life, and because it lies by the shore on 
a flatness hard to defend, and is distant from both Korchula and 
the mainland, pirates have murdered and looted their altars; 
and always other monks have come in their stead, to be murdered 
and looted in their turn. This series of pious tragedies con- 
tinued until the middle of the nineteenth century. This might 
be comprehensible, were the place the site of some holy event, 
or were it some desert supremely appropriate to renunciation 
of the world and union with the supernatural. But Badia has 
no story other than this curious mutual persistence of monks and 
pirates, and the monastery lies as comfortably and unspiritually 



among its gardens as a Sussex manor-house. The history 
presents an exactly matched sadism and masochism, equally 
insane in the pursuit of what it finds its perverse pleasure, and 
nothing more. 

Nuns, finding themselves as unwholesomely situated, would 
have gone home. That I thought before we landed, and I knew 
it afterwards. For we walked through the well-husbanded 
gardens, and round the cloisters, which are a mixture of Venetian 
Gothic and early Renaissance and conventional classic, yet are 
handled with such genius that they please as if they were of 
the purest style, and into the church, where the golden stone 
of the country makes splendour out of a plainish design. There, 
though this was a Franciscan monastery and a boys' school, a 
very pretty nun was scrubbing the floor in front of the altar. 
She sat back on her pleasing litde haunches and smiled with 
proprietary pride while we were shown a wooden cross, brought 
to Korchula by refugees who had fled here after the Turks had 
beaten Balkan Christendom at the battle of Kossovo, which 
showed on each side a realistic Christ in agony, the one mani- 
festly dead, the other manifestly still living. So might a farmer’s 
daughter smile when strangers came to her father’s byres to 
marvel at a two-headed calf. Had she been in charge of the 
religious establishment when pirates threatened, this and all 
other holy objects would have been gathered up and stuffed 
with simple cunning into loads of hay or cabbages and rowed 
back to safety. 

She was sensible. There is nothing precious about this 
Dalmatian civilisation. It rests on a basis of good peasant sense. 
We left Badia and chugged back to the island of Korchula, to a 
bay of hills terraced with vineyards and set with fortress-like 
farms, stocky among their fig and mulberry trees. The roads 
that joined them ran between thick walls, up great ramps and 
steps that not all the armies of the world and marching a year 
could tread down ; wine alwajrs converts those who deal in it 
to the belief that all should be made for time to gather up into 
an ultimate perfection. “ On that headland yonder,” said the 
Cardinal, pointing to a moory headland, ” was found the tablet 
which told us who we Korchulans are. An archaeologist work- 
ing there last century found an inscription which gave the names 
of five hundred Greek colonists who setded there in the third 
century before Christ." “ Was it not a hundred ? ’’ asked the 


Sitwell. “ That is not important,” said the Cardinal, " what 
matters is that they were foeek. It means that here is a part 
of ancient Greece which never was conquered by the Turk, 
which was never conquered at all in any way that could conquer 
ancient Greece. For in spite of Hungary and Venice and 
Austria we have, as you may have noticed, kept ourselves to 
ourselves.” I listened, smiling as at a boast, and then forgot 
to smile. What was ancient Greece that all the swains adore 
her ? A morning freshness of the body and soul, that will have 
none of the dust ; so it might be said. That was not incongruous 
with much we had seen since we first took to the water that 
morning. The claim was perhaps relevant to the extreme 
propriety of the sea captain's village, the gracefulness of the 
olive orchards and the almond orchards that had been forced 
on the mountains, the town of Orebice and its clear, virile 
inscription and counter-inscription, the fisherman on the islet, 
the peasant nun scrubbing the golden stone in front of the altar 
at Badia, the vineyards and their sturdy forts and redoubts. It 
was certainly completely in harmony, that claim, with this last 
island that we visited. 

“ This you must see,” the Sitwell had said ; “ there is a 
great quarry there, which has given the stone for some of the 
most beautiful buildings on our coast. They say the Rector’s 
Palace at Dubrovnik came from here.” We slid by so near that 
we could see the weed floating from its rocks, and looked at 
something that surely could not be a quarry town. There are 
certain ugly paradoxes that hold good in almost every society ; 
for example, the people who satisfy humanity’s most urgent 
need and grow its food are ill-paid and enjoy little honour. 
Another is the scurvy treatment of those who hew from the earth 
its stone, which not only gives shelter but compels those who 
use it towards decorum ; for even the worst architect finds 
difficulty in committing certain meannesses of design when he 
is working with stone, and it will help him to fulfil whatever 
magnificent intentions he may conceive. But in most quarry 
villages privation can be seen gaining on man like a hungry 
shark ; and in France I have visited one where the workers 
lived in lightless and waterless holes their hands had broken in 
the walls of a medieval castle. But here it was not so. The 
island was like a temple, the village we saw before us was like 
an altar in a temple. 



The village lay on the shore under a long low hill, riven with 
quarries and planted with some cypresses. The houses were 
built in proper shapes that would resist the winter gales but 
were not grim, that did not deny the existence of spring and 
summer, in stone that was the colour of edible things, of pale 
honey, of pie-crust, of certain kinds of melon. Flowers did not 
merely grow here, they were grown. Nasturtiums printed a 
gold and scarlet pattern on a wall under a window, vine- 
leaves made an awning over a table outside a house where an 
open door showed a symmetry of stacked barrels. Some men 
walked down the street, two and then another group of three. 
Because they knew our friends and thought them worthy, they 
raised their hands in salutation, then thought no more of us, 
receding into their own lives as the fisherman had receded into 
his sleep. Four children, playing with a goat and its kid, 
looked backwards over their shoulders for a second, and went 
back to their play. A woman scrubbing a table in her garden 
straightened her arm and rested on it, wondering who we might 
be, and when she had rested enough put aside her curiosity and 
went on with her work. The houses and the people made a 
picture of a way of life different from what we know in the West, 
and not inferior. 

My power to convey it is limited ; a man cannot describe 
the life of a fish, a fish cannot describe the life of a man. It 
would be some guide to ask myself what I would have found on 
the island if we had not been water-strolling past it on our way 
back to familiarity but had been cast on it for ever. I would 
not find literacy, God knows. Nearly one-half the population 
in Yugoslavia cannot read or write, and I think I know in 
which half these men and women would find themselves. From 
the extreme aesthetic sensibility shown in the simple archi- 
tecture of their houses and the planting of their flowers it could 
be seen that they had not blunted their eyes on print. Nor 
would I find clemency. This was no sugar-sweet Island of the 
Blest ; the eyes of these men and women could be cold as stone 
if they found one not to be valuable, if they felt the need to be 
cruel they would give way to it, as they would give way to the 
need to eat or drink or evacuate. Against what I should lack 
on this island I should count great pleasure at seeing human 
beings move about with the propriety of animals, with their 
muscular ease and their lack of compunction. There was to 


be included in the propriety the gift, found in the lovelier animals, 
of keeping clean the pelt and the lair. At a close gaze it could 
be seen that not in this quarry village either had the damnably 
incongruous poverty been abolished, but all was clean, all was 
neat. But not animal was the tranquillity of these people. 
They had found some way to moderate the flow of life so that it 
did not run to waste, and there was neither excess nor famine, 
but a prolongation of delight. At the end of the village a 
fisherman sat on a rock with his nets and a lobster-pot at his 
feet, his head bent as he worked with a knife on one of his tools. 
From the deftness of his movements it could be seen that he 
must have performed this action hundreds of times, yet his body 
was happy and elastic with interest, as if this were the first time. 
It was so with all things on this island. The place had been a 
quarry for over a thousand years : it was as if new-built. The 
hour was past noon ; it was as undimmed as dawn. Some of 
the men, and a woman who was sitting between her flowers 
on the doorstep, were far gone in years, but there was no stale- 
ness in them. 

On the last rock of the island, a yard or so from the shore, 
stood a boy, the reflected ripple of the water a bright trembling 
line across his naked chest. He raised his eyes to us, smiled, 
waved his hand, and receded, receded as they all did, to their 
inner riches. There passed through my mind a sentence from 
Humfry Payne’s book on Archaic Marble Sculpture in the 
Acropolis, which, when I verified it, I found to run : “ Most 
archaic Attic heads, however their personality, have the same 
vivid look — a look expressive of nothing so much as the 
plain fact of their own animate existence. Of an animate 
existence lifted up, freed from grossness and decay, by some 
action taken by the mind, which the rest of the world cannot 
practice." I said to the Cardinal, “ You have a way of living 
here that is special, that is particular to you, that must be 
defended at all costs.” He answered in a deprecating tone, 
" I think so.” I persisted. " I do not mean just your archi- 
tecture and your tradition of letters, I mean the W'ay the people 
live.” He answered, “ It is just that. It is our people, the way 
we live.” We were running quicker now, past the monastery 
among its pinewoods, past the headland where the Greek tablet 
was found, and could see the town of Korchula before us. “ I 
should like,” said the Cardinal, “ you to come back and learn to 



know our peasants. This business of politics spoils us in the 
towns, but somebody has to do it.” 

It was at this point, when the town had become a matter of 
identifiable streets, that the motor boat stopped and began to 
spin round. The Sitwell said, " We in Korchula are the 
descendants of a hundred or perhaps of five hundred Greeks, 
‘and we have defended the West against the Turks, ihd maybe 
Marco Polo was one of our fellow-countrymen, but all the same 
our motor boats sometimes break down.” The boatman made 
tinkering sounds in the bowels of the boat, while the green 
waters showed their strength and drew us out to the wind-crisped 
channel. " They will miss the steamer to Dubrovnik,” said the 
Sitwell. " Is it of importance,” asked the Cardinal, “ that you 
should be at Dubrovnik to-day ? ” ” Yes,” said my husband. 
The Cardinal stood up and made a funnel of his hands and 
hallooed to a rowing-boat that was dawdling in the bright light 
on the water to our south. Nothing happened, and the Cardinal 
clicked his tongue against his teeth, and said, " That family 
has always been slow in the uptake. Always.” It would have 
been amusing to ascertain what he meant by always, probably 
several centuries. But he continued to halloo, and presently 
the boat moved towards us. It proved to contain two young 
persons evidently but lately preoccupied with their own emotions : 
a girl whose hair was some shades lighter than her bronze skin 
but of the same tint, and a boy who seemed to have been 
brought back a thousand miles by the Cardinal’s cry, though 
once he knew what was wanted and we had stepped from our 
boat to his, he bent to his oars with steady vigour, his brows 
joined in resolution. The girl, who was sucking the stem of a 
flower, derived a still contentment from the sight of his prowess, 
which indeed did not seem to surprise her. Behind us, across 
a widening space of shining milk-white water, the motor boat 
we had just left had now become a stately national monument, 
because the Cardinal remained standing upright, looking down 
on the boatman. He was quite at ease, since he had got us off 
to our boat, but he was watching this man, not to reprove him 
for any fault but to judge his quality. From a distance he 
resembled one of those stout marble columns in the squares of 
medieval cities from which the city standard used to be flown. 



Dubrovnik (Ragusa) I 

" Let us wire to Constantine and ask him to meet us earlier 
in Sarajevo,” I said, lying on the bed in our hotel room, " I 
can’t bear Dubrovnik.” “ Perhaps you would have liked it 
better if we had been able to get into one of the hotels nearer 
the town," said my husband. “ Indeed I would not,” I said. 
" I stayed in one of those hotels for a night last year. They 
are filled with people who either are on their honeymoon or 
never had one. And at dinner I looked about me at the tables 
and saw everywhere half-empty bottles of wine with room- 
numbers scrawled on the labels, which I think one of the dreari- 
est sights in the world.” “ Yes, indeed,” said my husband, 
“ it seems to me alwa3rs when I see them that there has been 
disobedience of Gottfried Keller’s injunction ‘ Lass die Augen 
fassen, was die Wimper halt von dem goldnen Ueberfluss der 
Welt ’, ' Let the eyes hold what the eyelids can contain from 
the golden overflow of the world.’ But you might have liked it 
better if we were nearer the town." " No,” I said, " nothing 
could be lovelier than this.” 

We were staying in a hotel down by the harbour of Gruzh, 
which is two or three miles out of Dubrovnik or Ragusa, as it 
used to be called until it became part of Yugoslavia. The 
name was changed although it is pure Illyrian, because it 
sounded Italian : not, perhaps, a very good reason. Under the 
windows were the rigging and funnels of the harbour, and 
beyond the crowded waters was a hillside covered with villas, 
which lie among their gardens with an effect of richness not quite 
explicable by their architecture. The landscape is in fact a 
palimpsest. This was a suburb of Dubrovnik where the nobles 
had their summer palaces, buildings in the Venetian Gothic 
style furnished with treasures from the West and the East, 
surrounded by terraced flower-gardens and groves and orchards, 
as lovely as Fiesole or Vallombrosa, for here the Dalmatian coast 
utterly loses the barrenness which the traveller from the North 
might have thought its essential quality. These palaces were 
destroyed in the Napoleonic wars, looted and then burned ; and 
on their foundations, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 
have been built agreeable but undistinguished villas. But that 
is not the only confusion left by history on the view. The 



rounded slope immediately above the harbour is covered by an 
immense honey-coloured villa, with arcades and terraces and 
balconies hung with wistaria, and tier upon tier of orange trees 
and cypresses and chestnuts and olives and palms rising to the 
crest. It makes the claim of solidity that all Austrian archi- 
tecture made, but it should have been put up in stucco, like our 
follies at Bath and Twickenham ; for it was built for the Em- 
press Elizabeth, who, of course, in her restlessness and Hapsburg 
terror of the Slavs, went there only once or twice for a few days. 

“ I like this,” I said, “ as well as anything in Dubrovnik.” 
“ That can't be true,” said my husband, " for Dubrovnik is 
exquisite, perhaps the most exquisite town I have ever seen.” 
“ Yes,” I said, “ but all the same I don’t like it, I find it a unique 
experiment on the part of the Slav, tmique in its nature and 
unique in its success, and I do not like it. It reminds me of the 
worst of England." “ Yes,” said my husband, “ I see that, 
when one thinks of its history. But let us give it credit for what 
it looks like, and that too is unique.” He was right indeed, for 
it is as precious as Venice, and deserves comparison with the 
Venice of Carpaccio and Bellini, though not of Titian and Tin- 
toretto. It should be visited for the first time when the twilight 
is about to fall, when it is already dusk under the tall trees that 
make an avenue to the city walls, though the day is only blanched 
in the open spaces, on the bridge that runs across the moat to the 
gate. There, on the threshold, one is arrested by another example 
of the complexity of history. Over the gate is a bas-relief by 
Mestrovitch, a figure of a king on a horse, which is a memorial 
to and a stylised representation of King Peter of Serbia, the 
father of the assassinated King Alexander, he who succeeded to 
the throne after the assassination of Draga and her husband. 
It is an admirable piece of work. It would surprise those who 
knew Mestrovitch's work only from internationd exhibitions to 
see how good it can be when it is produced under nationalist 
inspiration for a local setting. This relief expresses to perfection 
the ideal ruler of a peasant state. Its stylisation makes, indeed, 
some reference to the legendary King Marko, who is the hero 
of all Serbian peasants. This king could g^oom the horse he 
rides on, and had bought it for himself at a fair, making no bad 
bargain ; yet he is a true king, for no man would daunt him 
from doing his duty to his people, either by strength or by 
riches. It is enormously ironic that this should be set on the 


walls of a city that was the antithesis of the peasant state, that 
maintained for centuries the most rigid system of aristocracy 
and the most narrowly bourgeois ethos imaginable. The incon- 
gruity will account for a certain coldness shown towards the 
Yugoslavian ideal in Dubrovnik ; which itself appears ironical 
when it is considered that after Dubrovnik was destroyed by the 
great powers no force on earth could have come to its rescue 
except the peasant state of Serbia. 

For an ideal first visit the traveller should go into the city and 
find the light just faintly blue with dusk in the open space that 
lies inside the gate, and has for its centre the famous fountain 
by the fifteenth-century Neapolitan architect Onofrio de la Cava. 
This is a masterpiece, the size of a small chapel, a domed piece 
of masonry with fourteen jets of water, each leaping from a 
sculptured plaque set in the middle of a panel divided by two 
slender pilasters, into a continuous trough that runs all round 
the fountain ; as useful as any horse-trough, and as lovely and 
elevating as an altar. On the two steps that raise it from the 
pavement there always lie some carpets with their sellers gossip- 
ing beside them. At this hour all cats are grey and all carpets 
are beautiful ; the colours, fused by the evening, acquire richness. 
On one side of this square is another of the bland little churches 
which Dalmatians built so often and so well, a town sister of 
that we had seen in the village where the retired sea captains 
lived. At this hour its golden stone gives it an air of enjoying 
its own private sunset, prolonged after the common one. It 
has a pretty and secular rose-window which might be the brooch 
for a bride’s bosom. Beside it is a Franciscan convent, with a 
most definite and sensible Pietk over a late Gothic portal. The 
Madonna looks as if, had it been in her hands, she would have 
stopped the whole affair ; she is in no degree gloating over the 
spectacular fate of her son. She is not peasant, she is noble ; it 
is hardly possible to consider her as seducible by the most exalted 
destiny. Facing these across the square is the old arsenal, its 
facade pierced by an arch ; people walk through it to a garden 
beyond, where lamps shine among trees, and there is a sound of 
music. For background there are the huge city walls, good as 
strength, good as honesty. 

Ahead runs the main street of the town, a paved fairway, 
forbidden to wheeled traffic, lined with comely seventeenth- 
century houses that have shops on their ground floor. At this 


The fountain of Onofrio de la Cava and Church of St. Saviour 




time it is the scene of the Corso, an institution which is the 
heart of social life in every Yugoslavian town, and indeed of 
nearly all towns and villages in the Balkans. All of the popula- 
tion who have clothing up to the general standard — I have 
never seen a person in rags and patches join a Corso in a town 
where good homespun or manufactured textiles are the usual 
wear, though in poverty-stricken districts I have seen an entire 
Corso bearing itself with dignity in tatters — join in a procession 
which walks up and down the main street for an hour or so 
about sunset. At one moment there is nobody there, just a 
few people going about the shops or sitting outside cafds ; at 
the next the street is full of all the human beings in the town that 
feel able to take part in the life of their kind, each one holding 
up the head and bearing the body so that it may be seen, each 
one chattering and being a little gayer than in private, each one 
attempting to establish its individuality. Yet the attempt defeats 
itself, for this mass of people, moving up and down the length of 
the street and slowly becoming more and more like each other 
because of the settling darkness, makes a human being seem 
no more than a drop of water in a stream. In a stream, more- 
over, that does not run for ever. The Corso ends as suddenly 
as it begins. At one instant the vital essence of the town chokes 
the street with its coursing ; the next, the empty pavement is 
left to the night. 

But while it lasts the Corso is life, for what that is worth in 
this particular corner of the earth ; and here, in Dubrovnik, 
life still has something of the value it must have had in 
Venice when she was young. A city that had made good bread 
had learned to make good cake also. A city that had built 
itself up by good sense and industry had formed a powerful 
secondary intention of elegance. It is a hundred and thirty 
years ago that Dubrovnik ceased to exist as a republic, but its 
buildings are the unaltered cast of its magnificence, its people 
have still the vivacity of those who possess and can enjoy. Here 
the urbanity of the Dalmatian cities becomes metropolitan. 
Follow this Corso and you will find yourself in the same dream 
that is dreamed by London and Paris and New York ; the 
dream that there is no limit to the distance which man can travel 
from his base, the cabbage-patch, that there is no pleasure too 
delicate to be bought by all of us, if the world will but go on 
getting richer. This is not a dream to be despised ; it comes 


from man's more amiable parts, it is imtainted by cruelty, it 
springs simply from a desire to escape from the horror that is 
indeed implicit in all man’s simpler relationships with the 
earth. It cannot be realised in a city so great as London or 
Paris or New York, or even the later Venice ; it was perhaps 
possible to realise it in a city no larger than Dubrovnik, which 
indeed neither was nor is very far from the cabbage-patches. 
For on any fine night there are some peasants from the country- 
side outside the walls who have come to walk in the Corso. 

To taste the flavour of this Corso and this city, it is good 
to turn for a minute from the main street into one of the side 
streets. They mount steep and narrow to the walls which 
outline the squarish peninsula on which the city stands ; close- 
pressed lines of houses which are left at this hour to sleeping 
children, the old, and servant-maids, rich in carved portals and 
balconies, and perfumed with the spring. For it took the in- 
dustrial revolution to make man conceive the obscene idea of a 
town as nothing but houses. These carved portals and balconies 
are twined with flowers that are black because of the evening, 
but would be scarlet by day, and behind high walls countless little 
gardens send out their sweetness. Back in the main street the 
people from these houses and gardens sweep down towards their 
piazza, past a certain statue which you may have seen in other 
towns, perhaps in front of the Rathaus at Bremen. Such statues 
are said to represent the hero Orlando or Roland who defeated 
the Saracens : they are the sign that a city is part of liberal 
and lawful Christendom. To the left of the crowd is the Custom 
House and Mint, in which the history of their forebears for 
three centuries is written in three storeys. In the fourteenth 
century the citizens of the Republic built themselves a Custom 
House, just somewhere to take in the parcels ; in that age the 
hand of man worked right, and the courtyard is perfection. A 
hundred years later so many parcels had come in that the citizens 
were refined folk and could build a second storey for literary 
gatherings and social assemblies, as lovely as Venetian Gothic 
could make it. Prosperity became complicated and lush, the 
next hundred years brought the necessity of establishing a 
handsome Mint on the top floor, in the Renaissance style ; and 
for sheer lavishness they faced the Custom House with a loggia. 
Because the people who did this were of the same blood, working 
in a civilisation that their blood and none other had made. 



these different styles are made one by an inner coherence. The 
building has a light, fresh, simple charm. 

They mill there darkly, the people of Dubrovnik, the build- 
ings running up above them into that whiteness which hangs 
alrave the earth the instant before the fall of the night, which 
is disturbed and dispersed by the coarser whiteness of the 
electric standards. The Custom House is faced by the Church 
of St. Blaise, a great baroque mass standing on a balustraded 
platform, like a captive balloon filled with infinity. In front 
is an old tower with a huge toy clock: at the hour two giant 
bronze figures of men come out and beat a bell. The crowd 
will lift their heads to see them, as their fathers have done for 
some hundreds of years. Next to that is the town cafe, a noble 
building, where one eats well, looking on to the harbour ; for 
we have reached the other side of the peninsula now, the wind 
that blows in through the archways is salt. Then to the right 
is the Rector’s Palace, that incomparable building, the special 
glory of Dubrovnik, and even of Dalmatia, the work of 
Michelozzo Michelozzi the Florentine and George the Dalmatian, 
known as Orsini. Simply it consists of a two-storeyed build- 
ing, the ground floor shielded by a loggia of six arches, the upper 
floor showing eight Gothic windows. It is imperfect : it once 
had a tower at each end, and these have gone. Nevertheless, 
its effect is complete and delightful, and, like all masterpieces of 
architecture, it expresses an opinion about the activities which 
are going to be carried on under its roof. Chartres is a specula-' 
tion concerning the nature of God and of holiness. The 
Belvedere in Vienna is a speculation concerning political power. 
By the balanced treatment of masses and the suggestion of 
fertility in springing arches and proliferating capitals, the 
Rector's Palace puts forward an ideal of an ordered and creative 
society. It is the most explicit building in an amazingly explicit 
town, that has also an explicit history, with a beginning and 
an end. It is another example of the visibility of life which is 
the special character of Yugoslavia, at least so far as those 
territories which have not been affected by the Teutonic con- 
fusion are concerned. 

The Corso says, “ This is the city our fathers made ", The 
city says, " These are the men and women we have made ”. 
If you should turn aside and go into the caf^ to eat an evening 
meal, which here should be preferably the Englische Platte, 


an anthology of cold meats chosen by a real scholar of the 
subject, the implications of this display will keep you busy for 
the night. There is, of course, the obvious meaning of 
Dubrovnik. It was quite truly a republic : not a protectorate, 
but an independent power, the only patch of territory on the 
whole Dalmatian coast, save for a few unimportant acres near 
Split, that never fell under the rule of either Hungary or Venice. 
It was a republic that was a miracle : on this tiny peninsula, 
which is perhaps half a mile across, was based a great eco- 
nomic empire. From Dubrovnik the caravans started for the 
overland journey to Constantinople. This was the gateway to 
the East; and it exploited its position with such commercial 
and financial and naval genius that its ships were familiar 
all over the known world, while it owned factories and ware- 
houses in every considerable port of Southern Europe and in 
some ports of the North, and held huge investments such as 
mines and quarries in the Balkans. Its history is illuminated 
by our word " argosy ", which means nothing more than a 
vessel from Ragusa. It is as extraordinary as if the city of 
London were to have carried out the major part of the com- 
mercial achievements of the British Empire and had created 
Threadneedle Street, with no more territory than itself and 
about three or four hundred square miles in the home counties 
which it had gradually acquired by conquest and purchase. 
That is the primary miracle of Dubrovnik ; that and its resist- 
ance to Turkey, which for century after century coveted the 
port as the key to the Adriatic and the invasion of Italy, yet 
could never dare to seize it because of the diplomatic genius of 
its defenders. 

But as one contemplates the town other issues crowd on the 
mind. First, the appalling lack of accumulation observable in 
history, the perpetual cancellation of human achievement, which 
is the work of careless and violent nature. This place owes its 
foundation to the ferocity of mankind towards its own kind. 
For Dubrovnik was first settled by fugitives from the Greek 
city of Epidaurus, which is ten miles further south down the 
coast, and from the Roman city of Salonae, when these were 
destroyed by the barbarians, and was later augmented by Slavs 
who had come to these parts as members of the barbarian forces. 
It was then monstrously harried by the still greater ferocity 
of fire and earthquake. Some of the fires might be ascribed to 



human agency, for the prosperity of the group — which was due 
to its fusion of Greek and Roman culture with Slav virility — 
meant that they were well worth attacking and therefore they 
had to make their rocky peninsula into a fortress with abundant 
stores of munitions. They were, therefore, peculiarly subject to 
fires arising out of gunpowder explosions. The Rector’s Palace 
was twice burned down for this reason during twenty-seven 
years. But such damage was trifling compared to the devasta- 
tion wrought by earthquakes. 

The bland little church beside the domed fountain at the 
City Gate was built in the sixteenth century as a thanksgiving 
by those who had been spared from an earthquake which, in a 
first convulsion, shook down houses that were then valued at 
five thousand pounds, and then continued as a series of shocks 
for over eighteen months ; and there was apparently an earth- 
quake of some degree in this district every twenty years. But 
the worst was the catastrophe of 1667. The sea was tilted back 
from the harbour four times, each time leaving it bone dry, 
and each time rushing back in a flood-wave which pounded 
many vessels to pieces against the docks and cliffs. The greater 
part of the public buildings and many private houses were in 
ruins, and the Rector of the Republic and five thousand citizens 
were buried underneath them. Then fire broke out ; and later 
still bands of wolfish peasants from the mountain areas devas- 
tated by Venetian misrule and Turkish warfare ceune down and 
plundered what was left. 

We know, by a curious chance, exactly what we lost in the 
way of architecture on that occasion. In the baroque church 
opposite the Rector’s Palace there is a two-foot-high silver 
statuette of St. Blaise, who is the patron saint of the city, and 
he holds in his hand a silver model of Dubrovnik as it was before 
the earthquake. It shows us the setting for a fairy-tale. In 
particular it shows the Cathedral, which was built by Richard 
Coeur-de-Lion as a thanksgiving for his escape from shipwreck 
on this coast, as a thirteenth-century building of great beauty 
and idiosyncrasy, and the main street as a unique expression of 
commercial pride, a line of houses that were true palaces in their 
upper parts and shops and offices below. We can deduce also 
that there was an immense loss of pictures, sculptures, textiles, 
jewels and books, which had been drawn by the Republic from 
West and East during her centuries of successful trading, 
vou 1 R 


Indeed, vre know of one irreparable loss, so great that we cannot 
imagine what its marvellous content may have been. There 
existed in Bosnia a society that was at once barbarous and 
civilised, an indirect heir to Byzantine civilisation and able to 
fight Rome on doctrinal points as a logic-chopping equal, but 
savage and murderous. This society was destroyed by the 
Turk. At the end of the fifteenth century, Ca^erine, the 
widow of the last King of Bosnia, murdered by his illegitimate 
son, who was later himself flayed alive by Mahomet II, fled to 
Dubrovnik and lived there till she went to Rome to die. Before 
she left she gave some choral books, richly illustrated and 
bound, to the monks of the Franciscan Monastery, who had a 
famous library. If these books had survived they would have 
been a glimpse of a world about which we can now only guess : 
but the whole library perished. 

What is the use of ascribing any catastrophe to nature ? 
Nearly always man’s inherent malignity comes in and uses the 
opportunities it offers to create a graver catastrophe. At this 
moment the Turks came down on the Republic to plunder its 
helplessness, though their relationship had till then been friendly. 
Kara Mustapha, the Turkish Grand Vizier, a demented alcoholic, 
pretended that the armed resistance the citizens had been forced 
to put up against the wretched looters from the mountains 
was in some obscure way an offence against Turkish nationals, 
and on this pretext and on confused allegations of breach of 
tariff agreements, he demanded the payment of a million ducats, 
or nearly half a million pounds. He also demanded that the 
goods of every citizen who had been killed in the earthquake 
should be handed to the Sublime Porte, the Republic being 
(he suddenly claimed) a Turkish possession. For fifteen years 
the Republic had to fight for its rights and keep the aggressors 
at bay, which it was able to do by using its commercial potency 
and its diplomatic genius against the Turks when they were 
already rocking on their feet under the blows of Austria and 
Hungary. Those were its sole weapons. France, as professed 
defender of Christianity and order in Europe, should have aided 
the Republic. But Louis XIV would not lift his little finger to 
help her, partly because she had been an ally of Spain, partly 
because the dreary piece of death-in-life, Madame de Maintenon, 
supreme type of the she-alligator whom men often like and 
admire, had so inflamed him with pro-Jesuit peission that a 



mere rumour that the Republican envoy was a Jansenist was 
enough to make him cancel his mission. 

The story of what happened to the four ambassadors who 
left to plead with the Turkish Government is one of classic 
justifications of the human race : almost a promise that there 
is something to balance its malignity. Caboga and Bucchia 
were sent to Constantinople to state the independence of the 
Republic. They were, by a technique familiar to us to-day, 
faced with documents admitting that the Republic was a 
Turkish possession and told with threats and curses that they 
must sign them. They refused. Dazed and wearied by hours 
of bullying they still refused, and were thrown into a plague- 
stricken prison. There they lay for years, sometimes smuggling 
home dispatches written in their excrement on packing paper. 
Their colleagues. Bona and Gozzi, went to Sarajevo to make the 
same statement of independence to the Pasha of Bosnia, and 
were likewise thrown into captivity. They were dragged behind 
the Turkish Army on a war it was conducting with Russia on 
the Danube, and there thrown in irons into the dungeons of a 
fortress in a malarial district, and told they must remain prisoners 
until they had signed the documents which Cadoga and Bucchia 
had refused to sign in Constantinople. There Bona died. A 
Ragusan priest who had settled in the district stood by to give 
him the last sacrament, but was prevented by the jailers. There 
is no knowing how many such martyrs might have been 
demanded of Dubrovnik and furnished by her, had not the 
Turks then been defeated outside Vienna by John Sobieski, 
King of Poland. Kara Mustapha w’as executed, and there was 
lifted from the Republic a fear as black as any we have felt 

It is a glorious story, yet a sad one. What humanity could 
do if it could but have a fair course to run, if fire and pestilence 
did not gird our steps and earthquakes engulf them, if man did 
not match his creativeness with evil that casts down and 
destroys ! It can at least be said that Dubrovnik ran well in 
this obstacle race. But there is not such exaltation in the 
spectacle when it is considered how she had to train for that 
victory, both so far as it was commercial and diplomatic in 
origin. Everywhere in the Dalmatian cities the class struggle 
was intense. The constitution of the cities provided for the 
impartial administration of justice, legal and economic, to 


persons arranged in castes and made to remain there, irrespective 
of their merits, with the utmost rigid injustice. This was at first 
due to historical necessity. The first-comers in a settlement, who 
had the pick of the economic findings and whatever culture was 
going, might really be acting in the public interest as well as 
defending their own private ends, when they insisted on reserving 
to themselves all possible social power and not sharing it with 
later-comers, who might be barbarians or refugees demoralised 
by years of savage warfare. But it led to abuses which can be 
measured by the continual rebellions and the horrible massacres 
which happened in every city on the coast. In Hvar, for 
instance, the island where the air is so sweet, the plebeians took 
oath on a crucifix held by a priest that they would slaughter all 
the nobles. The Christ on the crucifix bled at the nose, the priest 
fell dead. Nevertheless the plebeians carried out their plans, and 
massacred many of the nobles in the Hall of Justice in the pre- 
sence of the Rector, but were overcome by a punitive expedition 
of the Venetian fleet and themselves put to death or mutilated. 

This caste system never led to such rebellions in Dubrovnik, 
partly because the economic well-being of the community 
choked all discontent with cream, partly because they had 
little chance of succeeding : but it existed in a more stringent 
form than anywhere else. The population was divided into 
three classes ; the nobles, the commoners and the workers. 
The last were utterly without say in the government. They did 
not vote and they could hold no office. The conunoners also had 
no votes, but might hold certain unimportant offices, though only 
if appointed by the nobles. The actual power of government 
was entirely in the hands of the nobles. The body in which 
sovereignty finally rested was the Grand Council, which con- 
sisted of all males over eighteen belonging to families confirmed 
as noble in the register known as the Golden Book. This 
Council deputed its executive powers to a Senate of forty-five 
members who met four times a week and at times of emergency ; 
and they again deputed their powers to a Council of Seven 
(this had numbered eleven until the earthquake) who exercised 
judicial power and performed all diplomatic functions, a 
Council of Three, who acted as a tribune of constitutional 
law, and a Council of Six, who administered the Exchequer. 
There were other executive bodies, but this is a rough idea of 
the anatomy of the Republic. It must be remembered that 



these classes were separated in all departments of their lives 
as rigidly as the Hindu castes. No member of any class was 
permitted to marry into either of the other two classes ; if he 
did so he lost his position in his own class and his children had 
to take the rank of the inferior parent. Social relations between 
the classes were unthinkable. 

It is interesting that this system should have survived when 
all real differences in the quality of classes had been levelled by 
general prosperity, when there might be commoners and even 
workers who were as rich and as cultured as any noble. It is 
interesting, too, that it should have survived even when the 
classes were cleft from within by disputes. When Marmont 
went to Dubrovnik in 1808 he found that the nobles were 
divided into two parties, one called the Salamancans and the 
other the Sorbonnais. These names referred to some controversy 
arising out of the wars between Charles the Fifth of Spain and 
Francis the First of France, a mere matter of two hundred and 
fifty years before. It had happened that in the earthquake of 
1667 a very large proportion of the noble class was destroyed, 
and it was necessary to restore it to strength by including a 
number of commoners. These the Salamancans, sympathisers 
with Spanish absolutism, would not treat as equals ; but the 
Sorbonnais, Francophil and inclined to a comparative liberalism, 
accepted them fully. It is also a possible factor in the situation 
that the Sorbonnais had been specially depleted by the earth- 
quake casualties and wanted to keep up their numbers. Be 
that as it may, the two parties were exactly equal in status and 
sat together on the Councils, but they had no social relations 
and did not even greet each other on the streets ; and a mis- 
alliance between members of the two parties was as serious in 
its consequences as a misalliance between classes. 

But this was far from being the only sop offered by the 
Republic to that disagreeable appetite, the desire of a human 
being to feel contempt for another not in fact very different 
froiix himself. The commoners in their turn were divided into 
the confraternities of St. Anthony and St. Lazarus, who were 
as rancorous in their relationship as the Salamancans and the 
Sorbonnais. The survival of this three-class system in spite of 
these dissensions suggests that it was actually a fusion of long- 
standing customs, native to the different races which composed 
the Republic : say a variation of the classical system of aristo- 


cracy grafted on some ancient Illyrian organisation of which 
we now know nothing, which pleased the Slav late-comers, 
though themselves democratic in tendency, because of the solid 
framework it gave to internal bickerings. “ Whether they agree 
or do not agree," an exasperated Roman emperor wrote of the first 
Slav tribes to appear within the empire’s ken, "very soon they fall 
into disturbances among themselves, because they feel a mutual 
loathing and cannot bear to accommodate one another." 

The system, of course, was far from being merely silly. One 
may wonder how it survived ; one cannot question the benefits 
it conferred by surviving. The Republic was surrounded by 
greedy empires whom she had to keep at arm's-length by 
negotiation lest she perish ; first Hungary, then Venice, then 
Turkey. Foreign affairs were her domestic affairs ; and it was 
necessary that they should be conducted in complete secrecy 
with enormous discretion. It must never be learned by one 
empire what had been promised by or to another empire, and 
none of the greedy pack could be allowed to know the pre- 
cise amount of the Republic’s resources. There was therefore 
every reason to found a class of governors who were so highly 
privileged that they would protect the status quo of the com- 
munity at all costs, who could hand on training in the art 
of diplomacy from father to son, and who were so few in 
number that it would be easy to detect a case of blabbing. 
They were very few indeed. In the fifteenth century, when the 
whole population was certainly to be counted by tens of 
thousands, there were only thirty-three noble families. These 
could easily be supervised in all their goings and comings by 
those who lived in the same confined area. 

But it is curious that this ultra-conservative aristocratic 
government should develop a tendency which is often held to be 
a characteristic vice of democracy. Dubrovnik dreaded above 
all things the emergence of dominant personalities. The pro- 
visions by which this dread is expressed in the constitution are 
the chief differences which distinguish it from its obvious 
Venetian model. The Senate was elected for life, and there 
you had your small group of hereditary diplomats. But these 
elections had to be confirmed annually, and infinite precautions 
were taken lest any Senator should seize excessive power and 
attempt dictatorship. The Rector wore a superb toga of red 
silk with a stole of black velvet over the left shoulder, and was 



preceded in his comings and goings by musicians and twenty 
palace guards ; but he held his office for just one month, and 
could be re-elected only after intervals of two years ; and this 
brevity of tenure was the result of ever-anxious revision, for the 
term had originally been three months, had been reduced to two, 
and was finally brought down to the single month. He was 
also held prisoner within the palace while he held office, and 
could leave it only for state appearances, such as his obligatory 
solemn visit to the Cathedral. 

The lesser offices were as subject to restriction. The judici- 
ary and diplomatic Council of &ven was elected afresh every 
year, and could not be re-elected for another year. The Council 
of Three, who settled all questions of constitutional law, was 
also elected for but one year. The Council of Six, who adminis- 
tered the state finances, was elected for three years. There 
were also certain regulations which prevented the dominance 
of people of any particular age. The Council of Seven might 
be of any adult age, but the youngest had to act as Foreign 
Secretary ; but the Council of Three had all to be over fifty. 
These devices were entirely justified by their success. Only 
once, and that very early in the history of Dubrovnik, did a 
noble try to become a dictator ; and then he received no support, 
save from the wholly unrepresented workers, and was forced to 
suicide. Later, in the seventeenth century, some nobles were 
seduced by the Duke of Savoy into a conspiracy to seize power, 
but they were arrested at a masked ball on the last day of 
Carnival, and executed by general consent of the community. 

That terror of the emergent personality is not the only 
trait of this aristocratic society which recalls its contrary. 
There is a great deal in the history of Dubrovnik which had 
its counterpart among our Puritan capitalists. The nobles 
believed in education even more seriously than was the custom 
of their kind in other Dalmatian towns, though even there the 
standard was high : the Venetian Governor of Split is found 
complaining of young men who came back from their studies 
at Oxford filled with subversive notions. But they did not, as 
might have been expected, try to keep learning as a class 
prerogative. As well as sending their own sons to universities 
in Italy and France and Spain and England, they built public 
schools which were open to the children of all three classes. 
They also created a hospital system which included the first 



foundling hospital in the whole civilised world, and they were as 
advanced in their treatment of housing problems. After one of 
the earlier earthquakes they put in hand a town-planning scheme 
which considered the interests of the whole community, and their 
arrangements for a water supply were not only ahead of the time as 
an engineering project but made an attempt to serve every home. 

They also anticipated philanthropists of a much later date 
and a wholly different soci^ setting in their attitude to the slave- 
trade. In 1417 they passed what was the first anti-slavery 
legislation except for our own English laws discouraging the 
export of human cargo from Bristol. This was no case of 
damning a sin for which they had no mind, since a great deal 
of money could be made in the Mediterranean slave-trade, a 
considerable amount of which had come to certain Republican 
merchants living further north on the coast ; and it must be 
remembered that, owing to the survival of the feudal system in 
the Balkans long after it had passed away from the rest of 
Europe, the state of serfdom was taken for granted by many of 
the peoples under the Republic’s rule or in relationship with 
her. But the Grand Council passed a law providing that any- 
body selling a slave should be liable to a heavy fine and six 
months’ imprisonment, “ since it must be held to be base, 
wicked and abominable, and contrary to all humanity, and to 
redound to the great disgrace o( our city, that the human form, 
made after the image and similitude of our Creator, should be 
turned to mercenary profit, and sold as if it were brute beast ". 
Fifty years later they tightened up this law and made the punish- 
ment harsher, adding the proviso that if a slave-trader could 
not recover his victims from captivity within a certain period 
after he had been directed to do so by the authorities, he was 
to be hanged. All through the next three centuries, until the 
Mediterranean slave-trade became wholly extinct, it was a 
favourite form of philanthropy among the wealthy Republicans 
to buy slaves their freedom. 

There were other Whig preferences in Dubrovnik : the right 
of asylum, for instance, was strictly maintained. When the 
Turks beat the Serbs at Kossovo in 1389 one of the defeated 
princes, the despot George Brankovitch, took refuge in Dubrov- 
nik and was hospitably received, though the Republic was an 
ally of Turkey. When the Sultan Murad II protested and de- 
manded that he should be delivered up, the Senate answered, 



“ We, men of Ragusa, live only by our faith, and according to 
that faith we would have sheltered you also, had you fled 
hither.” But there is a quality familiar to us Westerners not 
only in the political but in the social life of the Republic. The 
citizens kept extremely comfortable establishments, with the 
best of food and drink and furniture, but their luxury was 
strictly curbed in certain directions. There was never any 
theatre in Dubrovnik till fifty years after the destruction of the 
Republic, one was built by the Austrians. In the fifteenth 
century, which was a gay enough season for the rest of Europe, 
Palladius writes : " To make manifest how great is the severity 
and diligence of the Ragusans in the bringing up of their 
children, one thing I will not pass over, that they suffer no 
artistic exercises to exist in the city but those of literature. And 
if jousters or acrobats approach they are forthwith cast out lest 
the youth (which they would keep open for letters or for mer- 
chandising) be corrupted by such low exhibitions.” 

There must have been many an English family of wealthy 
bankers and manufacturers in Victorian days who ate vast 
meals and slept in the best Irish linen and were surrounded by 
the finest mahogany and the most distinguished works of Mr. 
Leader and Mr. Sidney Cooper (and, perhaps, thanks to 
John Ruskin, some really good Italian pictures), but who never 
set foot in a theatre or music-hall or circus. But an even 
more significant parallel between the Republic and England is 
to be found in the hobbies of the wealthier citizens. English 
science owes a great deal to the discoveries of business men, 
particularly among the Quakers, who took to some form of 
research as an amusement to fill in their spare time. So was 
it also in Dubrovnik. The citizens had a certain taste for 
letters, though chiefly for those exercises which are to literature 
as topiary is to gardening, such as the composition of classical 
or Italian verses in an extremely formal style ; but their real 
passion was for mathematics and the physical sciences. They 
produced many amateurs of these, and some professionals, of 
whom the most notable was Roger Joseph Boscovitch, a wild 
Slav version of the French encyclopaedists, a mystic, a mathe- 
matician and physicist, a poet and diplomat. In his writings 
and those of his compatriots who followed the same passion, there 
are paeans to science as the illuminator of the works of God, 
which have countless analogues in the writings of Englishmen of 


the same class in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 

But the resemblance does not stop there. There is a certain 
case to be made against the bourgeois class of Englishmen that 
developed into the Nonconformist Liberals who followed Mr. 
Gladstone through his triumphs, and reared their sons to follow 
Lord Oxford and Mr. Lloyd George to the twilight hour of their 
faith. It might be charged against them that their philanthropy 
consisted of giving sops to the populace which would make it 
forget that their masters had seized all the means of production 
and distribution, and therefore held them in a state of complete 
economic subjection. It might be charged against them also 
that they were virtuous only when it suited their pockets, and 
that while they would welcome Kossuth or Mazzini or any other 
defender of oppressed people outside the British Empire, they 
were indifferent to what happened inside it. It might be charged 
against them that they cared little how much truth there was 
in the bitter description of our exports to the coloured races, 
" Bibles, rum, and rifles ", so long as there was truth in the 
other saying, " Trade follows the flag ". There is enough 
testimony to the virtue of this class to make such charges not 
worth discussing with any heat of spirit ; but there was enough 
truth in them to make it impossible to regard the accused as an 
ideal group, and the society which produced them as para- 
disaical. It is even so with Dubrovnik. 

The Republic was extremely pious. She spoke of her 
Christianity at all times, and in her Golden Book there is a 
prayer for the magistrates of the Republic which runs ; " O 
Lord, Father Almighty, who hast chosen this Republic to serve 
Thee, choose, we beseech Thee, our governors, according to 
Thy Will and our necessity : that so, fearing Thee and keeping 
Thy Holy Commandments, they may cherish and direct us in 
true charity. Amen.” Never was there a city so full of churches 
and chapels, never was there a people who submitted more 
loyally to the discipline of the Church. But there was a certain 
incongruity with this in their foreign policy. Had Dubrovnik 
the right to pose as a proud and fastidious Catholic power con- 
sidering her relations with the Ottoman Empire, the devouring 
enemy of Christendom ? The other Dalmatian towns were less 
complaisant than Venice in their attitude to the Turks, the 
Republic far more. She never fought the Turk. She paid him 
tribute, and tribute, and again tribute. 



Every year two envoys left the city for Constantinople with 
their load of golden ducats, which amounted, after several 
increases, to fifteen thousand. They wore a special dress, 
known as the uniform of the divan, and had their beards 
well grown. They placed their affairs in order, embraced their 
families, attended Mass at the Cathedral, and were bidden 
godspeed by the Rector under the arches of his palace. Then, 
with their cashier, their barber, numerous secretaries and in' 
terpreters, a troop of armed guards, and a priest with a portable 
altar, they set forth on the fifteen days’ journey to the Bosphorus. 
It was not a very dangerous journey, for the caravans of the 
Republic made it an established trade route. But the envoys 
had to stay there for twelve months, till the next two envoys 
arrived and took their place, and the negotiation of subtle 
business with tyrants of an alien and undecipherable race, while 
physically at their mercy, was a dangerous task, which was 
usually performed competently and heroically. This was not, 
however, the only business they transacted with the Turks. The 
envoys to Constantinople had also to do a great deal of bribery, 
for there was a sliding scale of tips which covered every official at 
the Porte from the lowest to the highest. This burden increased 
yearly as the Turkish Empire increased in size to the point of 
unwieldiness, and the local officials became more and more im- 
portant. As time went on it was almost as necessary to bribe the 
Sandjakbeg of Herzegovina and the Pasha of Bosnia and their 
staffs as it was to make the proper payments to the Sublime Porte. 

All this would be very well, if Dubrovnik had avowed that 
she was an independent commercial power in a disadvantageous 
military and naval position, and that she valued her conunerce 
and independence so highly that she would pay the Turks a 
great ransom for them. But it is not so pleasing in a power that 
boasts of being fervent and fastidious in its Christianity. Of 
course it can be claimed that Dubrovnik was enabled by her 
relations with the Porte to render enormous services to the 
Christians within the territories conquered by the Turks ; that 
wherever her mercantile colonies were established — and that 
included towns all over Bosnia and Serbia and Bulgaria and 
Wallachia and even Turkey itself — the Christians enjoyed a 
certain degree of legal protection and religious freedom. But 
on the other hand the Republic won for herself the right to pay 
only two or sometimes one and a half per cent on her imports 

2s6 black lamb and grey falcon 

and exports into and out of the Ottoman Empire, while all the 
rest of the world had to pay five per cent. It is no use. Nothing 
can make this situation smell quite like the rose. If Dickens 
had known the facts he might have felt about Dubrovnik as he 
felt about Mr. Chadband ; and if Chesterton had attended to 
them he might have loathed it as much as he loathed cocoa. 

Especially is this readiness to rub along with the Turks 
displeasing in a power which professed to be so fervent and 
fastidious in its Christianity that it could not let the Orthodox 
Church set foot within its gates. Theoretically, the Republic 
upheld religious tolerance. But in practice she treated it as a 
fair flower that was more admirable if it blossomed on foreign 
soil. Though Dubrovnik had many visitors, and even some 
natives, who were members of the Orthodox Church, they 
were not allowed to have any place of worship within the 
Republic. It curiously happened that in the eighteenth century 
this led to serious difficulties with Catherine the Great, when her 
fleet came to the Mediterranean and Adriatic to tidy up the 
remains of Turkish sea-power. Her lover Orloff was the 
Admiral in charge, and he presented the Republic with an 
agreement defining her neutrality, which included demands for 
the opening of an Orthodox Church for public use in Dubrovnik, 
and the establishment of a Russian consulate in the city, to 
protect not only Russians but all members of the Orthodox 
Church. The second request was granted, the first refused. 
Jesuit influence, and the Pope himself, were again illustrating 
the unfailing disposition of the Roman Catholic Church to fight 
the Orthodox Church with a vehemence which could not have 
been exceeded if the enemy had represented paganism instead 
of schism, whatever suffering this campaign might bring to the 
unhappy peoples of the Balkan Peninsula. 

The agreement Russia offered the Republic was in every 
other regard satisfactory ; but for three years an envoy from 
Dubrovnik argued the point in St. Petersburg, and in the end 
won it, by using the influence of Austria and Poland, and the 
personal affection that the Prussian Ambassador to Russia 
happened to feel for the beauty of the city. It is pathetic how 
these Northerners love the South. In the end, after two more 
years, Orloff had to sign a treaty with Dubrovnik, by which 
she exchanged the right to trade in Russian waters for her 
sanction of the appointment of a Russian Consul, who was 



to protect only Russian subjects, and who might build in his 
house a private chapel at which his own nationals might worship 
according to the Orthodox rite. History is looked at through 
the wrong end of the opera-glasses when it is recorded that the 
Republican envoy signed the treaty, went straight to Rome 
and was given the warmest thanks for the services he and the 
Republic had rendered the Holy Catholic religion by " for- 
bidding the construction of a Greek chapel Such pettiness 
is almost grand. Owing to a change in Russia’s foreign policy 
the Consul was never appointed, and the Republic permitted 
instead the building of a tiny chapel in a deserted spot over a 
mile from the city walls. When, in 1804, the Republic was 
again asked to grant its Orthodox citizens the free practice of 
their religion it absolutely refused. 

This intolerance led ultimately to the extinction of the 
Republic. At the Congress of Vienna the Czar Alexander 
could have saved it, and the cause of this small defenceless 
state might well have appealed to his mystic liberalism ; but 
he remembered that the Republic had obstinately affronted his 
grandmother, and that in order to persecute his own religion, 
and he withheld his protection. But it would be a mistake to 
suppose that in the defence of the Papacy the Republic acted 
out of fidelity to its religious principles and contempt for its 
worldly interests. It found — and here we find it achieving 
a feat of economy that has brought on its English prototypes 
many a reproach — that in serving the one it served the other. 
When an Austrian Commissioner was taking over Dubrovnik 
after it had been abandoned by the French, he remarked to 
one of the nobles that he was amazed by the number of 
religious establishments in the city. The answer was given, 
“ There is no cause for amazement there. Every one of them 
was as much good to us as a round-house.” And indeed this 
was true. The Roman Catholic fervour of this state that lay 
on the very border of the Orthodox territory guaranteed her 
the protection of two great powers, Spain and the Papacy. 
Again there is a smell not of the rose. 

This equivocal character of the Republic is worth consider- 
ing, because it affects an argument frequently used in the 
course of that soft modern propaganda in favour of Roman 
Catholicism which gives testimony, not to the merits or demerits 
of that faith, but to the woolliness of modern education. It is 


sometimes put forward that it is right to join the Roman 
Catholic Church because it produces pleasanter and more 
mellow characters than Protestantism. This, of course, is a 
claim that the Church itself would regard with contempt. The 
state of mind demanded firam a Roman Catholic is belief that 
certain historic events occurred in fact as they are stated to 
have occurred by the teachers of the Church, and that the 
interpretation of life contained in their teachings is literally 
and invariably true. If membership of the Church inevitably 
produced personalities intolerable to all other human beings, 
that would have no bearing on the validity of the faith. But 
those who do not understand this make their bad argument 
worse by an allegation that Roman Catholicism discourages 
two undesirable types, the Puritan and his complicated brother, 
the hypocritical reformist capitalist, and that Protestantism 
encourages them. Yet the Puritan appears throughout the 
ages under any form of religion or none, under paganism and 
Christianity, orthodox and heretical alike, under Catholicism 
and Protestantism, under deism and rationalism, and in each 
case the authorities have sometimes encouraged and sometimes 
discouraged him. There is indeed some excuse for the pretence 
that Protestantism has had a special affection for the reformist 
capitalist, because geographical rather than psychological con* 
ditions have made him a conspicuous figure in the Northern 
countries which resisted the Counter-Reformation. But here 
in Dubrovnik, here in the Republic of Ragusa, is a complete 
chapter of history, with a beginning and an end, which shows 
that this type can spring up in a soil completely free from any 
contamination of Protestantism, and can enjoy century after 
century the unqualified approbation of Rome. 


I. Tsavtat 

The road runs along the coast between rocky banks dripping 
with the golden hair of broom. The hillside above and below 
us was astonishing in its fertility, although even here the rain 
was diluting the spring to a quarter of its proper strength. 
There was everywhere the sweet -smelling scrub, and thickets of 



oleander, and the grey-blue swords of aloes ; and on the lower 
slopes were olive terraces and lines of cypresses, spurting up 
with a vitality strange to see in what is black and not g^reen. 
Oaks there were — the name Dubrovnik means a grove of 
oaks ; and where there were some square yards of level ground 
there were thick-trunked patriarchal planes, with branches 
enough to cover an army of concubines. The sea looked poverty- 
stricken, because, being here without islands, it had no share 
in this feast served up by the rising sap. There was presented 
a vision of facility, of effortless growth as the way to salva- 
tion. This coast, in ancient times, was a centre of the cult 
of Fan. 

There were, however, other interesting residents of a super- 
natural character. Somewhere up in the mountains on this 
road is the cave in which Cadmus and his wife suffered their 
metamorphosis. They were so distressed by the misfortunes 
of their children, who were persecuted by Hera, that they 
begged the gods to turn them into snakes. Ovid made a lovely 
verse of it. When Cadmus had suffered the change : 

. . . “ illc suae lambebat coniugis ora 
inque sinus caros, veluti cognosceret, ibat 
et dabat amplexus adsuetaque colla petebat. 
quisquis adest (aderant comites), terrentur ; at ilia 
lubrica permulcet cristati colla draconis, 
et subito duo sunt iunctoque volumine serpunt, 
donee in adpositi nemoris subiere latebras, 
nimc quoque nec fugiunt hominem nec vulnere laedunt 
quidque prius fuerint, placidi meminere dracones.” * 

It is an apt symbol of the numbness that comes on the broken- 
hearted. They become wise ; they find comfort in old com- 
panionship ; but they lose the old human anatomy, the sensa- 
tions no longer follow the path of the nerves, the muscles no 
longer offer their multifold reaction to the behests of the brain, 

> “ He licked his wife’s face, and crept into her dear familiar breasts, 
enfolded her and sought the throat he knew so well. All who were there — 
for they had friends with them — shuddered with honor. But she stroked 
the sleek neck of the crested reptile, and all at once there were two snakes 
there with intertwining coils, which after a little while glided away into 
the woods near by. Now, as when they were human, they neither fear 
men nor wound them and are gentle creatures, who still remember what 
they were." 


there is no longer a stout fortress of bones, there is nothing but 
a long, sliding, writhing sorrow. But what happened to 
Cadmus was perhaps partly contrived by the presiding deity of 
the coast, for he was the arch-enemy of Pan, since he invented 
letters. He made human-kind eat of the tree of knowledge ; he 
made joy and sorrow dangerous because he furnished the means 
of commemorating them, that is to say of analysing them, of 
being appalled by them. 

That was not an end of the strange events on the coast. 
We learn from St. Jerome’s Life of St. Hilarion that when 
(in the fourth century) the holy man went to Epidaurus, which 
was a town founded by the Greeks not far from here, he 
found the whole district terrorised by a monster living in a 
cave near by, who could draw peasants and shepherds to his 
lair by his breath. It was certainly Cadmus ; literature has 
always found readers. St. Hilarion went to the mouth of the 
cave and made the sign of the cross and bade the dragon come 
forth. It obeyed and followed the saint as meekly as might be 
back to Epidaurus : all literature worth naming is an expression 
of the desire to be saved. There the saint said to the towns- 
people, “ Build a pyre " ; and when they had done that, he 
said to the dragon, “ Lie down on that pyre.” It obeyed. The 
townspeople set the pyre alight, and it lay quietly till it was 
burned to ashes. Without doubt it was Cadmus, it was litera- 
ture. It knew that it was not a dragon, it was a phoenix, and 
would rise restored and young from its ashes ; it knew that 
pagan literature was dying and Christian literature was being 

Since then Epidaurus has changed its name twice. It was 
destroyed by the barbarians in the seventh century and its 
population fled ten miles further north and founded Dubrovnik 
or Ragusa. But after a time some stragglers returned to the 
ruins of the sacked city and built another of a simpler sort, 
which came to be known as Ragusa Vecchia. Now it is called 
Tsavtat, which is said to be a Slavonic version of the word 
“ civitas ”. We stopped there and found that the story about 
St. Hilarion and the dragon was perfectly true. It cannot be 
doubted. The town lies on a double-humped dromedary of a 
peninsula, and the road can be seen where the dragon trotted 
along behind the saint, looking as mild as milk but sustained by 
its inner knowledge that not only was it to be reborn from the 



flames, but that those who kindled them were to know something 
about death on their own account. It was aware that when we 
visited the scene fifteen hundred years later we should be able to 
see in our mind’s eye the tall villas which it passed on the way 
to its martyrdom, and the elegant and serious people who held 
their torches to the p3rre ; and it knew why. It knew that one 
day the sailors and crofters would come to live among the ruins 
of the town and would delve among the burnt and shattered villas 
and take what they would of sculptures and bas-reliefs to build 
up their cottage walls, where they can be seen to-day, flowers in 
the buttonhole of poverty. It knew that the peasants’ spades 
would one day attack a part of the peninsula which, in the 
Greek town, had been the jewellers' quarter ; and that after- 
wards intaglios on the hungry breasts and rough fingers of 
people who had never known what it was to satisfy necessity, 
would speak of a dead world of elegant and serious ladies and 
gentlemen, otherwise sunk without trace. " Lie down,” St. 
Hilarion was obliged to say to the dragon, " Lie down, and 
stop laughing.” 

Yet even that was not the last event to happen here as it 
does nowhere else. Two seafaring families of this place became 
rich and famous shipowners, and Just after the war a woman 
who had been born into the one and had married into the other 
conceived the desire that Mestrovitch should build a mausoleum 
for herself, her father, her mother and her brother. She held 
long discussions with the sculptor, and then she and her father 
and her brother all died suddenly, for no very probable mediccd 
reason ; and the mother had only time to make the final arrange- 
ments for the execution of the plan before she joined them. 
There is something splendid and Slav about this. They had 
resolved to provoke an analysis of death by their own deaths, 
and hastened to carry out their resolution. 

Mestrovitch made the mausoleum in the form of a Chapel 
of Our Lady of the Angels, standing among the cypresses in the 
cemetery on one of the two summits of the peninsula. It is 
characteristic of him in the uncertainty with which it gropes 
after forms : there are some terrible errors, such as four boy 
musician angels who recall the horrid Japaneseries of Aubrey 
Beardsley. There is no getting over the troublesome facts that 
the Turkish occupation sterilised South Slav art for five hundred 
years, and that when it struggled back to creativeness it found 




itself separated by Philistine Austria from all the artistic achieve- 
ments that the rest of Europe had been making in the meantime. 
But there are moments in the Chapel which exquisitely illustrate 
the theory, the only theory that renders the death of the in- 
dividual not a source of intolerable grief : the theory that the 
goodness of God stretches under human destiny like the net 
below trapeze artists at the circus. The preservation offered 
is not of a sort that humanity would dare to offer ; a father 
would be lynched if he should do so badly for his son. Yet 
to die, and to know a meaning in death, is a better destiny 
than to be saved from dying. This discussion Mestrovitch 
carries on not by literary suggestion, but as a sculptor should, 
by use of form. 

But this coast belongs to Pan. In this mausoleum Cadmus 
goes too far, he delves into matters which the natural man would 
forget and ignore, and he is punished. The sexton in charge 
of this cemetery whose work it is to show visitors the tomb, is a 
cheerful soul who has taken up mortuary interests as if they 
were football or racing. He has himself tried his hand at 
sculpture, and his carvings are all excruciating parodies of 
Mestrovitch, criticisms which none of his enemies have ever 
surpassed in venom; and, as every artist knows, there are 
tortures which a dragon dreads far more than the pyre. 

II. Perast 

From Tsavtat the road goes inland and passes one of those 
Dalmatian valleys which cannot be true, which are an obvious 
Munchausen, in winter they are lakes, not swamps but deep 
lakes, which can be swum and fished and rowed over in quite 
sizable boats ; I have seen one as long as Derwentwater. In 
spring an invisible presence pulls out a plug, and the water 
runs away through the limestone and out to sea by miles of 
subterranean passages, and instead of Derwentwater there is 
dry and extremely cultivable land. Thereafter we came back 
to the sea and the town of Hertseg Novi, where wistaria and fruit 
blossoms and yellow roses frothed over the severely drawn 
diagram of military works, to which the Bosnians and the Turks 
and the Venetians and the Spaniards have all contributed in 
their time. In the distance we saw, and did not visit because the 
hour was wrong, the sixteenth-century monastery of St. Savina, 



where King Alexander of Yugoslavia delivered to himself an in- 
timation of his approaching death. He had visited it many times, 
but when he went there just before he embarked for France, he 
did not pull the rope that rings the bell to announce the coming 
of a guest. He walked past it and rang the passing-bell. 

It is to be noted that his very presence there is an indication 
of some of the difficulties inherent in the State of Yugoslavia. 
This was the first Orthodox monastery we had yet seen in the 
whole of our journey through the country. The piety which 
made him visit it could not have endeared him to his Catholic- 
Croat subjects in the North and on the coast ; and they would 
not have shared in the passionate interest he felt in the treasures 
of this church, which comprise some holy objects in the pos- 
session of the Nemanyas, the great dynasty that made the 
Serbian Empire, because those emperors had no historical 
association with them. Yet if the Karageorges had not been 
sustained by the Orthodox Church and their pride in their 
medieval past they could never have driven out the Turks or 
defended themselves in the Great War or freed their fellow- 
Slavs from the Austrian yoke. There are, as MetchnikoflF said, 
disharmonies in nature, and probably the greatest of them is our 
tendency to expect harmony in nature. 

We ran along a coast that was pretty in a riverside way, 
though it was edged with the intended cruelty of naval warfare, 
with dockyards and out at sea the iron sharks of torpedo-boats 
and submarines. But then it suddenly became lovely, we were 
in the Bocca di Cattaro, the Boka Katorska, the winding natural 
harbour, of which one has read all one’s life ; and like a Nor- 
wegian fjord, it made an effect that was to the ordinary landscape 
as ballet-dancing is to walking. The channel became wilder in 
shape as it became milder in surface, it narrowed to a river and 
widened to a bay, then flung itself away like a shawl and lay 
cast down between rocks in an unpredictable line. Above us 
the mountainside was cut with ledges where spring stands at 
different stages, sometimes showing the clearest green of early 
woodlands, laced with wild fhiit-blossom, sometimes only as the 
finest haze over winter darkness of tree and soil ; and high above 
all, pricking the roof of the sky at its full height, was the snow- 
covered peak of Mount Lovchen. But to Norway there was 
added here the special Dalmatian glory : a great deal of the coast 
is edged with a line of Venetian Gothic palaces and churches. 


The channel drew to its narrowest. Here a King of Hungary 
once closed it with a chain. We passed a waterfall, which, 
according to the custom of this limestone country, burst straight 
from the living rock, and came on Rishan, one of the oldest 
inhabited towns in the world. It was the capital of old Illyria, 
the seat of Queen Teiita. It is a little place that has had the 
breath beaten out of its body, for it has been invaded again and 
again since the time of the Goths onward, and has suffered also 
earthquake. It is a grotesque fact that when the Crown Prince 
Rudolf was taught Croat, the court chose as his tutor not a 
learned professor from Vienna or Zagreb, or any of the cultivated 
gentlemen to be found in the Dalmatian cities, but a country 
squire from this town.^ Battered though it is, it keeps the 
exquisite imprint of the coastal taste, and it has something 
of the hardy quality of the town opposite Korchula where 
the sea captains lived ; nets hang bronze over the golden and 
lilac stone. 

Perast, a few miles further along the fjord, is finer and 
larger, with a surrealist touch added to its Venetian Gothic 
charm. For beside the harbour an unfinished church, hardly 
more than an open arch, stands in front of a large and com- 
pletely finished church, in very curious relations to its campanile, 
like one distracted before a superior, like Ophelia before the 
queen ; and many of the palaces have been cleft asunder by 
earthquakes, and are inhabited by Judas trees and fig trees 
and poplars and wistaria vines, which are wildly contortionist, 
hanging over a richly carved balustrade and forcing an entrance 
back to the house through a traceried window a storey higher. 
But Perast offers a touch of familiarity to the ear, and to the 
eye. Its name comes once into the life of Peter the Great, 
who, in the course of one of h'ls five-year plans, sent sixteen 
young nobles here to go to sea with the local sea captains to 
learn the art of navigation. The boys must have blinked at 
the South, at the sea, at the discipline, all new to them. And 
set in the bay are two islands, lying two or three hundred yards 
out, both covered with low buildings, one bare of all but stone, 
the other guarded by some cypresses. At the second every 
visitor must feel a startled, baffled stirring of recognition which 
afterwards they will probably repudiate. 

• I was about to discover the reason for this from a Viennese historian 
when the Anschluss came, and there was silence. 



But the recognition is right. This is the island on which 
Arnold BScklin based his horrid vision of what happens to 
Bubbles and His Majesty King Baby when the goblins get 
them because they don't watch out : “ Die Toteninsel ”, the 
Isle of Death. But the original is a curious contrast to the 
picture. It is as if one met the reverse of a common experience, 
it is like seeing a photograph which represents a woman as 
bloated and painted, and finding that she is in fact a sunburned 
young athlete. The island is a chaste, almost mathematical 
arrangement of austerely shaped stones and trees. A boatman 
rowed us out, and we found it the most proper and restrained 
little Benedictine abbey of the twelfth century, ruined, but still 
coherent. We walked about it for a little, and found some 
stately tombstones that belonged, the boatman said, to the 
families that lived in the palaces on the mainland, which we 
could see lying on the shore and on the hillside among the 
spring woods. The names on the tombs were all Slav, Venetian 
though the place seemed to the eye. 

But our boatman plainly wished us to make a move, he kept 
on looking over his shoulder at the other island, and explaining 
that the baroque church there was very beautiful, and that 
many miracles had been performed in it. " He does not like 
us being here," 1 said, ” perhaps there are snakes.” But when 
we rowed to the other island we found he had wished to take us 
to it simply because he lived there, and his dog had been weary- 
ing for his company. He had been quite right in thinking this 
important, for it was a unique animal. Its coat, which was of 
drab tow, struck one as uncoiffed. Apparently dogs must pay 
some attention to their toilet, since it could be seen at a glance 
that this one paid none, being preoccupied with holy things. 
It had fervent sherry-coloured eyes and was the very dog for a 
miraculous shrine, for it had such a rich capacity for emotional 
life that it could hardly have retained any critical sense of 

If this dog had a fault, it lay in giving to God's creatures too 
much of the feelings that it should have reserved for the Creator. 
It greeted the boatman who could not have been away from it for 
more than half an hour, and offered us its friendship, as it might 
have broken an alabaster box of ointment over our feet and 
washed them with its hair. It had a baroque excessiveness, 
perfectly matched to the place where it lived. This island is 


artificial, banked up round a small rock, and it is covered with 
a marble pavement, on which there stands a Renaissance 
church, holy yet swelling its lines like the bosom of a well- 
nourished female saint. There is a lovely and insane piece of 
furniture, or masonry, left out on this pavement : a large marble 
table, upheld by crouching giants. Inside, the church is lined 
with some Italianate pictures, themselves passable, and set 
against a background of some two thousand votive tablets, 
worked in silver, an encyclopaedia of the silversmith’s art and 
the moods of the pious. There is among them one large work 
which is a masterpiece : it is a bas-relief showing the Turks 
coming down the mountains to attack Perast and being driven 
back. It is Renaissance work that has been preserved from its 
own sins by the virility of the people who practised it. 

As we left the dog promised to pray for our own salvation 
and expressed its intention of lighting a candle before the altar 
of Our Lady for the safety of its master during his journey to the 
shore and back. I suggested that we should ease its emotional 
strain by taking it in the boat with us, but this caused it great 
distress, and even seemed to shock the boatman. I suppose it 
had taken a vow not to leave the island. As we rowed away it 
ran round in circles, barking wildly, its head down, while behind 
it a totally superfluous archway, the curve of its span as sweet 
as the drip of syrup from a spoon, framed the grey glass of the 
sea by the shores of ancient Rishan. I blushed a little for the 
dog’s abandonment, and was glad that no cat was by to sneer. 
She must have been a thorn in the side of her spiritual adviser. 

III. Kotor 

There is a city named Dobrota, which is a string of Venetian 
palaces and churches along the coast, four miles long. It is a 
city, it is gloriously a city, for it was made so by the Republic 
on account of its exploits in naval warfare against the Turks. 
In one of its churches is the turban taken from Hadshi Ibrahim, 
who fell at Piraeus by the swords of two soldiers from this parish. 
And the place is not dead, though the earthquake struck here 
also, and the stained purple of the Judas tree appears suddenly 
between cleft walls. The Yugoslavian Navy and the liners 
draw many of their crews from Dobrota. The sea gives these 
places an unending life. 



In Kotor, too, there might be death. It was once a great 
city. It was part of the great medieval Serbian Empire, and 
after that was destroyed by the Turks it belonged to Hungary 
and then to Venice, and became superbly rich. The route 
from Dubrovnik to Constantinople ran through it, and it carried 
on a caravan trade on its own account, which it combined with 
sea trade to Italy. There are in the town thirty chapels built, 
none meanly, by private families. But all this was stopped by 
Napoleon’s attack on foreign trade. That, and the actual 
fighting he brought down on this unoffending coast, destroyed 
a gentle and eclectic culture. Later, the rule of Austria paralysed 
any movement towards recovery. A great many of the mountain 
tribes about here were irreconcilable, particularly on the hills 
by Rishan, and Austria policed the coast with a persistent 
nagging inefficiency that kept it poor and undeveloped and 

It lies at the fjord-head, pressed almost perpendicularly 
against the barren foothills under the mountains which are 
scaled by the famous road to Tsetinye ; and it is cooped up by 
military fortifications. Always it is a little cold. The sun shines 
on it only five hours a day in winter, and summer is not long 
enough to correct the accumulated chill. A labyrinth of alleys 
and handkerchief-wide squares leads from beauty to beauty. 
There is a tenth-century cathedral, rough but with a fine front, 
two towers joined by a portal that forms an arch. Inside there 
is a doorway from a ninth-century church that stood on the 
same site, which is superbly carved ; among a design of inter- 
lacing strands, like our Celtic borders but of superior rhythm, 
two devils snatch at two escaping souls ; all persons concerned 
are violent but serene. There is a treasury, untidy as the jewel- 
case of a rich woman who has become careless of such things 
through age and trouble, still stuffed, in spite of Napoleon's 
army and its requisitions : I have never seen such a show of 
votive arms and legs made in silver, and there were some touch- 
ing crosses that had been borne hither and thither in the long 
wars between the Christians and the Turks. And there is a 
Bishop’s palace beside it, with good capon lined, and grown 
with climbing flowers. 

Further on among the cold alleys there is a twelfth-century 
Orthodox church. Here in Kotor there are many Orthodox. 
It has a tiny separate church within its aisle, a box within a 


box, a magic within a magic. It reminded me of what I had 
forgotten, the difference between the dark, hugged mystery of 
the Eastern Church and the bold explanation proffered by the 
lit altars of the Western Chtirch. Round an icy comer was a 
Romanesque church built in the fourteenth century yet adorned 
with the eagles of pagan Rome. Here there is the crucifix of a 
suffering Christ, with a crown of real thorns and hair made of 
shavings, which is ascribed to Michelangelo by a learned monk 
of the seventeenth century, who must have been a great liar ; and 
here one mounts some steps before a side altar and looks down 
through glass on the Blessed Osanna, a Montenegrin saint who 
died nearly four hundred years ago, but keeps about her rags 
and tatters of skin and bones a look of excited and plaintive 
sweetness. It is odd how Catholicism and Orthodoxy modify 
the Slav character. In the Orthodox parts of Yugoslavia they 
do not believe that it is the part of women to lead consecrated 
lives though they should be pious, and there are very few 

" Nothing ever happens in Kotor,” one would think. We 
thought it proven by our guide’s insistence that on one day of 
the year, in February, something does happen in Kotor. Then 
the Guild of Sailors parades the streets in medieval costume, 
bearing the weapons their ancestors used to fight the Turks, and 
there is a ceremony at the cathedral, unique, and I believe not 
strictly permissible, when the relics from the Treasury are laid 
on the altar and are censed alternately by two leading citizens, 
one Roman Catholic and one Orthodox. We are far from the 
seats of authority here, and Slavs are individualist. ” Is it still 
a great show ? " we asked doubtfully. “ Surely," said our guide. 
“ W’e have lost our merchants, but we still have our sailors, 
which is more important.” 

It was an agreeable answer to hear from a man who was 
wearing an overcoat so threadbare that it showed its weft. He 
proved he meant it by taking us through the Town Gate to the 
quay, and saying proudly, " Here are our sailors.” They were 
walking in the pale evening sunshine, with the mountains 
behind them curving over the ^ord like a blown wave : they 
were indolent as highbred horses when they are not ridden, and 
their faces were quietly drunken with stored energy, which they 
would know how to release should they one day be at Piraeus, 
and a pirate pass them wearing a turban. " If I had not been 


born in war-time, so that as a child I had many sicknesses,” said 
the guide, " I too should have been a sailor." 

IV. Home by Gruda 

Our chauffeur was the son of a Swabian, which is to say a 
German belonging to one of those families which were settled 
by Maria Theresa on the lands round the Danube between 
Budapest and Belgrade, because they had gone out of cultiva- 
tion during the Turkish occupation and had to be recolonised. 
His father had come to Dubrovnik before he was born, and he 
‘ can never have known any other people but Slavs, yet quite 
obviously Slavs struck him as odd and given to carrying on 
about life to an excessive degree. He himself, particularly 
when he spoke in English, attempted to correct the balance by 
under-statement. Hence, when we approached the village of 
Gruda, on our way from Dubrovnik to Kotor, he turned his 
head and said, ” Nice people." He meant, it proved, that the 
men and women of this district were undistinguishable in ap- 
pearance from gods and goddesses. This was one of those 
strange pockets one finds scattered here and there at vast in- 
tervals in the universe, where beauty is the common lot. 

" But why," the chauffeur was asking himself, " make a 
fuss about that ? ” He put the question to himself with a kind 
of stolid passion, when we passed through the village again on 
our way home to Dubrovnik, and a group of three young girls, 
lovely as primroses in a wood, came towards us, laughing and 
stretching out their hands and crying out " Pennies, pennies,” 
as if they were not only begging but were ridiculing the ideas 
of beggary and benevolence alike. Since we were on the return 
journey we knew we had time to waste, and hammered on the 
glass and made the chauffeur stop. He slowed up under protest. 
" They will beg,” he said. “ Why not ? ” said my husband. 
They were, indeed, most prettily prepared to do so, for each of 
them carried a little bouquet of flowers for an excuse. 

“ Pennies, pennies 1 ” they cried, laughing, while we stared 
at them and adored them. This was no case of a racial 
tendency imposing itself on the mass, each germ-cell had made 
an individual effort at beauty. One was black, one was chestnut, 
one was ash-blonde ; they were alike only in their golden skins, 
their fine eyebrows, their full yet neat mouths, the straightness 



of their bodies within their heavy black woollen gowns. ** Have 
you any pennies, my dear ? I have none,” said my husband, 
hill of charitable concern. “ Not one,” I answered, and I 
turned to the chauffeur. “ Give me three tenpenny pieces,” 
I said. “ Three tenpenny pieces I ” he exclaimed very slowly. 
“ But you must not give them three tenpenny pieces. Three 
tenpenny pieces 1 It is very wrong. They should not beg at all. 
Begging is disgraceful. And even if it were excusable, three 
tenpenny pieces is far too much.” 

There was much to be said for his point of view. Indeed, 
he was entirely right and we were wrong. But they were so 
beautiful, and in spite of their beauty they would be poor all 
their lives long, and that is an injustice I never can bear. It is 
the flat violation of a promise. Women are told from the day 
they are born that they must be beautiful, and if they are ugly 
everything is withheld from them, and the reason why scarcely 
disguised. It follows therefore that women who are beautiful 
should want for nothing. “ Please, I would like to give it to 
them,” I besought the chauffeur, “ just three tenpenny pieces ; 
it’s not much for us English with the exchange as it is.” 

He did not answer me at once. His nature, which was so 
profoundly respectful of all social institutions, made him hate 
to refuse anything to an employer. At last he said, " I have 
only one tenpenny piece on me.” As I took it we both knew 
that we both knew that he lied. Glumly he started the engine 
again, while the lovely girls stood and laughed and waved good- 
bye to us, a light rain falling on them, the wet road shining at 
their feet, the creamy foam of the tamarisk on the bank behind 
them lighter in the dusk than it is in the day, but the yellow broom 
darker. “ I wonder how old those girls were,” said my husband, 
a few miles further on. “ Let’s ask the chauffeur. Since he’s a 
native he ought to know.” The chauffeur answered, “ They 
were perhaps fifteen or sixteen. And if they are encouraged to 
be impudent when they are so young, what will they be like 
when they are old ? ” 

Dubrovnik II 

The day after our expedition we went to see the Treasury 
of the Cathedral. This is now fairly easy, though it can be 



seen only once or twice a week at a fixed hour ; it is typical of 
the stagnancy which covered Dalmatia under Austrian rule 
that before the war it was hardly to be visited, since the clergy 
took it for granted in that darkened world that a traveller was 
more likely to be a thief than a sightseer. A visit still takes 
time, for Dalmatians, like Croatians, sometimes find that 
difficulty about being at a particular place at a particular hour 
for a particular purpose which they believe to be characteristic 
of the Serb. With a crowd of fellow-tourists we sat about for 
half an hour or more after the prescribed moment, in the great 
baroque Cathedral, a creamy, handsome, worldly building. 
Then a priest, not old but already presenting a very prominent 
stomach, came in with the keys and took us through the safe- 
doors into the Treasury, which is divided down the middle by a 
low spiked barrier. We waited in a line along this, while the 
priest went behind it and opened a large number of the cup- 
boards which lined the room from floor to ceiling. He took 
from them object after object and brought them over to us, 
carrying them slowly along the barrier so that each of us could 
see them in detail. 

Some of these objects were very beautiful, notably a famous 
reliquary containing the head of St. Blaise, which is the shape 
of a skull-cap six inches high and six inches across, and is 
studded with twenty-four enamel plaques of eleventh-century 
Byzantine work, austere and intense portraits of the saints. 
There were some other good Byzantine and Serbo-Byzantine 
pieces, which the priest seemed to reckon as less interesting 
than the numerous examples of commonplace Renaissance work 
in the Treasury. Though the Catholic priests in Croatia and 
Dalmatia are pleasant and well-mannered they have none of 
that natural taste and aptitude for connoisseurship which are 
often found in quite simple priests in France and Italy. This 
one, indeed, felt little tenderness towards the arts. He showed 
us presently a modern crucifix, highly naturalist but very 
restrained and touching, which had been made by a young man 
of the town in his early twenties ; and when the stout Swiss 
woman beside me asked if the sculptor had fulfilled his promise, 
he replied, " Ah, no, he died at twenty-four of drink. It’s 
always so, with these artists.” ” Yes, indeed ! ” agreed the 
Swiss, and they shrugged their shoulders and nodded darkly, 
preening their flabbiness in superiority over a race who must 


necessarily follow a discipline stricter than they could ever have 

But these people believed themselves to be lovers of the arts ; 
presently the priest brought from the cupboards an object 
which he dandled and beamed upon while he showed it to the 
spectators, who responded by making the noise that is evoked 
by the set-piece of a firework display. I stretched my necK 
but could see nothing more than a silver object, confused in 
form and broken in surface. When it came to the Swiss woman 
I could see that it was a basin and ewer which are mentioned in 
many guide-books as the pearl of this collection. They are 
said to have been left by a certain Archbishop to his nephew 
in 1470, but a blind and idiot cow could tell at once that they 
are not so. Such disgraces came later. 

Nothing could be more offensive to the eye, the touch or to 
common sense. The basin is strewn inside with extremely 
realistic fem-leaves and shells, among which are equally 
realistic eels, lizards and snails, all enamelled in their natural 
colours. It has the infinite elaborateness of eczema, and to add 
the last touch of unpleasantness these animals are loosely fixed 
to the basin so that they may wobble and give an illusion of 
movement. Though Dubrovnik is beautiful, and this object 
was indescribably ugly, my dislike of the second explained to 
me why I felt doubtful in my appreciation of the first. The town 
regarded this horror as a masterpiece. That is to say they 
admired fake art, naturalist art, which copies nature without 
interpreting it ; which believes that to copy is all we can and 
need do to nature, which is not conscious that we live in an un- 
comprehended tmiverse, and that it is urgently necessary for 
sensitive men to look at each phenomenon in turn and find 
out what it is and what are its relations to the rest of existence. 
They were unaware of our need for information, they believed 
that all is known and that on this final knowledge complete 
and binding rules can be laid down for the guidance of human 
thought and behaviour. This belief is the snare prepared for 
the utter damnation of man, for if he accepts it he dies like a 
brute, in ignorance, and therefore without a step made towards 
salvation ; but it is built into the walls of Dubrovnik, it is the 
keystone of every arch, the well in every cloister. They sur- 
rounded themselves with real art, the art that moves patiently 
towards discovery and union with reality, because to buy the 



best was their policy, and they often actually bought the best. 
But they themselves pretended that they had arrived before 
they had started, that appearances are reality. That is why 
Dubrovnik, lovely as it is, gives the effect of hunger and thirst. 

But the priest assumed* that I would wish to look long on the 
basin, and bent towards me over the barricade to put it as close 
to me as possible ; and I learned how far worse than aesthetic 
pain the vulgarer physical sort can be. My right hand was 
transfixed with agony. I had rested it on the top of one of the 
spikes in the barricade, and now it was being impaled on the 
spike by the steady pressure of the priest’s immense stomach. I 
uttered an exclamation, which he took for a sign of intense 
appreciation evoked by his beautiful basin, and with a benevolent 
smile he leant still closer, so that I could see the detestable 
detail more plainly. His stomach came down more heavily 
on my hand, and my agony mounted to torment. I tried to 
attract his attention to what was happening by spreading out 
my fingers and twitching them, but this seemed to make no 
impression whatsoever on the firm rubbery paunch that was 
pressing upon them. 

This filled me with wonder. It was odd to arrive at middle 
age and find that one had been wrong about much that one had 
believed about human anatomy. I tried to speak, but the only 
words that came into my mind came in an incorrect form which 
I immediately recognised and rejected. " Ton ventre, dein 
Bauch, il tuo ventre, tvoy drob, I must not say that,” I told 
myself, “ I must say votre ventre, Ihr Bauch, il suo ventre, 
vash drob.” But at that it still seemed an odd thing to say 
to a priest before a crowd of people. I found myself, in fact, 
quite unable to say it, even though I taunted myself with dis- 
playing, too late in life, something like the delicacy which made 
Virginia refuse to swim with Paul from the shipwreck, because 
she was ashamed of her nudity. I uttered instead a low moan. 
The priest, certain now that I was a person of extreme sensibility, 
swayed backwards and then forwards. My husband, even more 
certain on that point, dug me savagely in the ribs. I uttered a 
piercing scream. 

The priest recoiled, and seemed about to drop the basin, 
but my pleasure was mitigated by the fear that my husband 
was going to strangle me. I held out my hand, which was 
bleeding freely from a wound in the palm. “ Ah, pardon 1 ” 



said the priest, coming forward bowing and smiling. He 
was taking it lightly, I thought, considering the importance 
which is ascribed to like injuries when suffered by the saints. 
“ But, my dear, what was it ? ” asked my husband. " The 
priest's stomach pressed my hand down on the spike,” I said 
feebly. “ It can’t have done ! ” exclaimed my husband, " he 
would have felt it 1 ” " No," I said, “ about that we were both 
wrong.” “ What was it ? ” asked the Swiss woman beside me. 
“ It was the priest’s stomach,” I said, imprudently perhaps, 
but I was beginning to feel very faint. 

She looked at me closely, then turned to her husband. He 
like everybody else in the room except the priest, who had 
returned to his cupboards, had his eyes fixed on me. I heard 
her say, “ She says it was the priest’s stomach.” He looked at 
me under knitted eyebrows, and when he was nudged by his 
neighbour I heard him answer the enquiry by repeating, “ She 
says it was the priest’s stomach.” I heard that neighbour echo 
incredulously what he had been told, and then I saw him turn 
aside and hand it on to his own neighbour. Though the priest 
came back with the ewer which was the companion to the 
basin and fully as horrible, containing a bobbing bunch of silver 
and enamelled grasses, he was never able to collect the attention 
of his audience again, for they were repeating among them- 
selves, in all their several languages, ” She says it was the priest’s 
stomach.” It seemed unfair that this should make them look 
not at the priest but at me. " Let us go,” 1 said. 

Out in the open air I leaned against a pillar and, shaking 
my hand about to get rid of the pain, I asked my husband if 
he did not think that there was something characteristic of 
Dubrovnik, and dishonourable to it, in the importance it 
ascribed to the basin and the ewer : and we discussed what was 
perhaps the false finality of the town. But as we spoke we heard 
from somewhere close by the sound of bagpipes, and though 
we did not stop talking we began to move in search of the player. 
" But the Republic worked,” my husband said, ” you cannot 
deny that the Republic worked.” “ Yes," I agreed, " it worked.” 
The music drew us across the market-place, which lies just 
behind the Cathedral, a fine irregular space surrounded by 
palaces with a robust shop-keeping touch to them, with a 
flight of steps rising towards the seaward wall of the town, 
where baroque domes touch the skyline. There were some 



fiercely handsome peasants in the dark Dalmatian costume sitting 
with their farm produce at their feet, and some had heard the 
bagpipes too and were making off to find them. We followed 
these, and found a crowd standing outside a building with a 
vaulted roof, that looked as if in the past it had formed part 
of some ambitious architectural scheme, perhaps a passage- 
way between two state offices. Now it seemed to be used as a 
stable, for there was horse’s dung on the floor ; but that would 
not explain why there was an upturned barrel on the floor, 
with a penny bottle of ink and a very large scarlet quill-pen 
lying on a sheet of newspaper spread over the top. Just inside 
the open doors stood a very 'old man, dressed in the gold- 
braided coat and full black trousers of a Bosnian, playing 
bagpipes that were made of nicely carved pearwood and faded 
blue cloth. He had put the homespun satchel all peasants caiTy 
down on the floor ; the place did not belong to him. He played 
very gravely, his brow contorted as if he were inventing the 
curious Eastern line of his melody, and his audience listened as 
gravely, following each turn of that line. 

" Look at them,” I said ; “ they are Slavs, they believe 
that the next Messiah may be born at any minute, not of any 
woman, for that is too obvious a generation, but of any im- 
personal parent, any incident, any thought. I like them for 
that faith, and that is why I do not like Dubrovnik, for it is an 
entirely Slav city, yet it has lost that faith and pretends that 
there shall be no more Messiahs.” ” But wait a minute,” said 
my husband ; “ look at these people. They are all very poor. 
They are probably the descendants of the workers, the lowest 
class of the Republic. That means that they have never 
exercised power. Do you not think that they may owe to that 
very fact this faith which you admire, this mystical expectation 
of a continuous revelation that shall bring man nearer to reality, 
stage by stage, till there is a consummation which will make 
all previous stages of knowledge seem folly and ignorance ? 
The other people in Dubrovnik had to exercise power, they 
had to take the responsibility. Perhaps none can do that unless 
he is sustained by the belief that he knows all that is to be 
known, and therefore cannot make any grave mistake. Perhaps 
this mystical faith is among the sacrifices they make, like their 
leisure and lightheartedness, in order to do the rest of us the 
service of governing us.” 


" Then it should be admitted that governors are inferior to 
those whom they govern,” I said, “ for it is the truth that we 
are not yet acquainted with reality and should spend our lives 
in search of it.” " But perhaps you cannot get people to take 
the responsibility of exercising power unless you persuade the 
community to flatter them,” said my husband, " nor does it 
matter whether the governed are said to be lower or higher than 
their governors if they have such faces as we see in the crowd, 
if wisdom can be counted to dwell with the oppressed.” " But 
they are hungry,” I said, “ and in the past they were often 
tortured and ill-used." “ It is the price they had to pay for the 
moral superiority of the governed,” said my husband, " just as 
lack of mystical faith is the price the governors have to pay for 
their morally unassailable position as providers of order for the 
community. I think, my dear, that you hate Dubrovnik because 
it poses so many questions that neither you nor anybody else 
can answer.” 




A LL tourists at Dubrovnik go on Wednesdays or Satur- 
Z_A days to the market at Trebinye. It is over the border 
Z Ain Herzegovina, and it was under a Turkish governor 
until the Bosnians and Herzegovinian rebels took it and had 
their prize snatched from them by the Austrians in 1878. It 
is the nearest town to the Dalmatian coast which exhibits what 
life was like for the Slavs who were conquered by the Turks. 
The route follows the Tsavtat road for a time, along the slopes 
that carry their olive terraces and cypress groves and tiny fields 
down to the sea with the order of an English garden. Then it 
strikes left and mounts to a gorgeous bleakness, golden with 
broom and gorse, then to sheer bleakness, sometimes furrowed 
by valleys which keep in their very trough a walled field, pre- 
serving what could not be called even a dell, but rather a 
dimple, of cultivable earth. On such bare rock the suihmer 
sun must be a hypnotic horror. We were to learn as we mounted 
that a rainstorm was there a searching, threshing assault. 

When the sky cleared we found ourselves slipping down the 
side of a broad and fertile valley, that lay voluptuously under 
the guard of a closed circle of mountains, the plump grey-green 
body of a substantial river running its whole length between 
poplars and birches. We saw the town suddenly in a parting 
between showers, handsome and couchant, and like all Turkish 
towns green with trees and refined by the minarets of many 
mosques. These are among the most pleasing architectural 
gestures ever made by urbanity. They do not publicly declare 
the relationship of man to God like a Christian tower or spire. 
They raise a white finger and say only, “ This is a community 

VOL. I 277 T 


of human beings and, look you, we are not beasts of the field "■ 
I looked up at the mountain and wondered which gully had 
seen the military exploits of my admired Jeanne Merkus. 

That, now, was a girl : one of the most engaging figures 
in the margin of the nineteenth century, sad proof of what 
happens to Jeanne d’Arc if she is unlucky enough not to be 
burned. She was born in 1839, in Batavia, her father being 
Viceroy of the Dutch East Indies. Her mother came of a 
clerical Walloon family, and was the divorced wife of a professor 
in Leyden University. Jeanne was sixth in the family of four 
boys and four girls. When she was five her father died, and she 
was brought home to Holland, where she lived with her mother 
at Amsterdam and The Hague until she was nine. Then her 
mother died and she went to live with an uncle, a clergyman, 
who made her into a passionate mystic, entranced in expectation 
of the second coming of Christ. 

It happened that when she was twenty-one she inherited a 
fortune far larger than falls to the lot of most mystics. Her 
peculiar faith told her exactly what to do with it. She went to 
Palestine, bought the best plot of ground she could find near 
Jerusalem, and built a villa for the use of Christ. She lived 
there for fifteen years, in perpetual expectation of her divine 
guest, and conceiving as a result of her daily life a bitter hatred 
against the Turks. 

When she heard of the Bosnian revolt she packed up and 
went to the Balkans, and joined the rebels. She came in 
contact with Lyubibratitch, the Herzegovinian chief, and at 
once' joined the forces in the field, attaching herself to a party of 
comitadji led by a French officer. We have little information 
as to where she fought, for very little has been written, and 
nothing in detail, about this important and shameful episode of 
European history. We have an account of her, one winter’s 
night, struggling single-handed to fire a mine to blow up a 
Turkish fortress among the mountains when all the rest of her 
troop had taken to their heels, and failing because the dynamite 
had frozen. It is almost our only glimpse of her as a campaigner. 

Jeanne’s more important work lay in the outlay of her 
fortune, which she spent to the last penny in buying Krupp 
munitions for the rebels. But as soon as the revolt was a proven 
success the Austrians came in and took over the country, and 
in the course of the invasion she was captured. She was set 



free and allowed to live in Dubrovnik, but she eluded the 
authorities and escaped over the mountains to Belgrade, where 
she enlisted in the Serbian Army. There the whole population 
held a torchlight serenade under her window, and she appeared 
on the balcony with a round Montenegrin cap on her fair hair. 

But there was to be no more fighting. The action of the 
great powers had perpetuated an abuse that was not to be 
corrected, till thirty-five years later, and then at irreparable cost 
to civilisation, in the Balkan wars and the first World War. 
There was nothing for Jeanne to do, and she had no money to 
contribute to the nationalist Balkan funds. The Turks had 
seized the house in Jerusalem which she had prepared for 
Christ, and, not unnaturally, would pay her no compensation. 
We find her moving to the French Riviera, where she lived in 
poverty. Sometimes she went back to Holland to see her 
family, who regarded her visits with shame and repugnance, 
because she talked of her outlandish adventures, wore strange 
comitadji-cum-deaconess clothes, smoked big black cigars, and 
was still a believing Christian of a too ecstatic sort. It is said 
that once or twice she spoke of her lost spiritual causes before 
young kinsfolk, who followed them for the rest of their lives. 
The relatives who remained insensible to her charm carried 
their insensibility to the extreme degree of letting her live on 
Church charity at Utrecht for the last years of her life, though 
they themselves were wealthy. When she died in 1897 they did 
not pay for her funeral, and afterwards they effaced all records 
of her existence within their power. 

It is important to note that nothing evil was known of 
Jeanne Merkus. Her purity was never doubted. But she never 
achieved martyrdom, and the people for whom she offered up 
her life and possessions were poor and without influence. She 
therefore, by a series of actions which would have brought her 
the most supreme honour had she acted in an important Western 
state as a member of the Roman Catholic Church in the right 
century, earned a rather ridiculous notoriety that puts her in 
the class of a pioneer bicyclist or Mrs. Bloomer. 

We passed certain coarse cliffs with lawns between which 
were once Austrian barracks. “ Now I remember something I 
was told about this place,” I said. What was that ? ” asked 
my husband. “ Nothing, nothing," I said. “ I will tell you 
later.” “ Look, you can see that the Austrians were here,” 


said my husband ; " there are chestnut trees everywhere." 
*' Yes, there’s been a lot of coffee with Schlagobers drunk under 
these trees," I said as we got out of the car at the market-place. 
We were walking away when our Serbian chauffeur called to us, 
" You had better take this man as a guide." This surprised 
us, for we had come only to see the peasants in their costumes, 
and any interesting mosques we could find, and the guide was 
a miserable little creature who looked quite unable to judge 
what was of interest and what was not. " Is it necessary ? " 
asked my husband. " No," admitted the chauffeur unhappily, 
but added, " This is, however, a very honest man and he speaks 
German, and it will cost you only tenpence.” He mentioned 
the sum with a certain cold emphasis, evidently recalling the 
scene with the three lovely girls of Gruda. 

But he was, I think, reacting to the complicated racial 
situation of Yugoslavia. He was a Swab, and had lived out his 
life among the Croatians and Dalmatians ; and all such Slavs 
who had never known the misery of Turkish rule harbour an 
extremely unhappy feeling about the fellow-Slavs of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina and Macedonia, who have so often suffered a real 
degradation under their Turkish masters. It is as if the North 
and East of England and the South Coast were as they are now, 
and the rest of our country was inhabited by people who had 
been ground down for centuries by a foreign oppressor to the 
level of the poor white trash of the Southern States or South 
Africa. Were this so, a man from Brighton might feel acutely 
embarrassed if he had to take a Frenchman to Bath and admit 
that the ragged illiterates he saw there were also Englishmen. 
Different people, of course, show this embarrassment in different 
ways. If they are the hating kind they quite simply hate their 
unpresentable relatives. But this chauffeur was a gentle and 
scrupulous being, and he settled the matter by regarding them as 
fit objects to be raised up by charity. Doubtless he would give 
somebody here his mite before he left ; and he felt this to a 
good opportunity to direct to a useful channel the disposition 
to wastefulness which he had deplored at Gruda. 

The guide turned out to be as we had thought him. It was 
a poor day for the market. A storm had been raging over the 
mountains all night, and as the year was stiJJ early and the crops 
light, most of the peasants had not thought it worth while to 
get up at dawn and walk the seven or eight miles to Trebinye. 



There were a few handsome women standing with some 
vegetables before them, soberly handsome in the same vein as 
their plain round caps and their dark gathered dresses, gripped 
by plain belts. We saw a tourist level a camera at two of these. 
They turned away without haste, without interrupting their 
grave gossip, and showed the lens their backs. These were very 
definitely country women. They wore the typical peasant shoes 
of plaited thongs, and by their movements it could be seen 
that they were used to walking many miles and they bore 
themselves as if each wore a heavy invisible crown, which 
meant, I think, an unending burden of responsibility and 
fatigue. Yet there were women among them who were to 
these as they were to town ladies, country women from a 
remoter country. The eyes of these others were mild yet wild, 
like the eyes of yoked cattle, their skin rougher with worse 
weather than the others had seen and harsher struggles with it ; 
and their bodies were ignorant not only of elegance but of 
neatness, in thick serge coats which were embroidered in designs 
of great beauty but were coarse in execution, if coarse is used 
not in the sense of vulgarity but to suggest the archaic, not to 
say the prehistoric. There was a difference among the men 
also. Some seemed sturdy and steadfast as the rock, others 
seemed the rock itself, insensitive, except to the weathering 
power of the frost and sun. 

There were also about the market-place plenty of Moslems, 
the men wearing the red fez, the women in the black veil and the 
overall made of a straight wide piece of cotton pulled in at the 
waist by a drawstring. " Turks,” said the guide, and he was 
talking nonsense. Nearly all the Moslems in Yugoslavia except 
in the extreme south, in Macedonia, are Slavs whose ancestors 
were converted by the Turks, sometimes in order to keep their 
properties, sometimes because they were Bogomil heretics and 
wanted defence against Roman Catholic persecution. This is 
pre-eminently the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina ; the true 
Turks left at the time of the Austrian occupation. " Look ! ” 
said my husband, and I found that he was enraptured at the 
sight of the fezes and the veils, for though he had spent some 
time in Istanbul and Ankara, that had been since the days of 
the Ataturk and his reforms. ” Do you think the veil adds 
charm to the female ? ” I asked. “ Yes, in a way,” he answered ; 
" they all look like little Aberdeen terriers dressed up to do tricks, 


with those black muzzles sticking out." One stopped, and 
offered to sell him some white silk handkerchiefs of offensive 
aspect, with tatting at the comers. His taste in linen is classical ; 
she was not fortunate. Nor were any of the six others who 
sought to sell him such handkerchiefs at various points in 
Trebinye. “ I don’t like their handkerchiefs and I don’t like 
them,’’ he decided. " No doubt they’re perfectly respectable, 
but they waggle themselves behind all this concealment with a 
Naughty Nineties sort of sexuality that reminds me of Ally 
Sloper and the girls, and the old Romano, and the Pink 'Un 
and the Pelican.” 

This was not the last we were to see of that peculiar quality. 
After our guide had so far exhausted the possibilities of Trebinye 
that he was driven to taking us down a street to see a boot-shop 
and saying reverently, “ Batya," we decided we would go back 
to Dubrovnik. But we changed our minds because a little 
Moslem boy handed us a leaflet which announced that tourists 
could visit an old Turkish house in the town, formerly the home 
of a famous pasha, which was complete with its original furniture 
and its original library. We found it in the suburbs, standing 
among gardens where spring was touching off the lilac bushes 
and the plum trees ; a house perhaps a hundred or a hundred 
and fifty years old. It was a very pleasing example of the 
Turkish genius for building light and airy country houses that 
come second only to the work of our own Georgians, and in 
some ways are superior, since they hold no dark corners, no 
mean holes for the servants, no rooms too large to heat. 

This stood firm and bright and decent, with its projecting 
upper storeys, the windows latticed where the harem had been, 
and its two lower storeys that had their defended Arabian 
Nights air of goods made fast against robbers. Across a country- 
ish courtyard, almost a farmyard, was the servants’ house, 
where the kitchens and stables were. Down an outer staircase 
ran a pretty, smiling girl of about sixteen, unveiled but wearing 
trousers, which here (though not in other parts of Yugoslavia) 
are worn only by Moslem women. Behind her came an elderly 
man wearing a fez and a brocade frock-coat. On seeing us 
the girl broke into welcoming smiles, too profuse for any social 
circle that recognised any restrictions whatsoever, and left us 
with a musical comedy gesture. Her trousers were bright pink. 
" Turkish girl,” said the man in the frock-coat, in German. 



“ Then why is she unveiled ? ” asked my husband. “ She is 
too young,” said the man in the frock-coat, his voice plump 
to bursting with implications. 

We wavered, our faces turning back to Trebinye. " Come 
in, come in,” cried the man in the frock-coat, placing himself 
between us and Trebinye. " I will show you all, old Turkish 
house, where the great pasha kept his harem, all very fine.” 
He drove us up the stairs, and shepherded us through the main 
door into a little room, which in its day had been agreeable 
enough. Pointing at the latticed windows he said richly, " The 
harem was here, beautiful Turkish women wearing the beautiful 
Turkish clothes.” He opened a cupboard and took out a col- 
lection of clothes such as may be found in any old-clothes shop 
in those provinces of Yugoslavia that were formerly occupied 
by the Turks. “ Very fine, all done by hand,” he said of the 
gold-braided jackets and embroidered bodices. ” And look, 
trousers 1 ” He held up before us a garment of white lawn, 
folded at the ankle into flashy gold cuffs, which can never have 
been worn by any lady engaged in regular private harem work. 
" Transparent,” he said. It was evident that he was affected 
by a glad pruritis of the mind. Coyly he sprang to another 
cupboard and brought out a mattress. “ The bed was never 
left in the room,” he said ; ” they took it out when it was 
needed.” There was unluckily a third cupboard, with a tiled 
floor and a ewer. ” This was the bathroom, here is where the 
Turkish lady kept herself clean, all Turkish ladies were very 
clean and sweet.” He assumed a voluptuous expression, cocked 
a hip forward and put a hand on it, lifted the ewer upside-down 
over his head, and held the pose. 

Undeterred by our coldness, he ran on to the next room, 
which was the typical living-room of a Turkish house, bare of 
all furniture save a bench running along the walls and an otto- 
man table or two, and ornamented by rugs nailed flat to the 
wall. 1 exclaimed in pleasure, for the view from its window 
was exquisite. The grey-green river we had seen frem the 
heights above the city ran here through meadows deep in long 
grasses and pale flowers, and turned a mill-wheel ; and the first 
leaves of the silver birches on its brink were as cool to the eye 
as its waters. Along this river there must once have wandered, if 
there is any truth in Oriental miniatures, a young prince wearing 
an ospreyed fez and embroidered garments, very good-looking 


now though later he would be too fat, carrying a falcon on his 
wrist and snugly composing a poem about the misery of his love. 

“ I should be obliged,” said the man in the frock-coat, " if 
the well-bom lady would kindly pay some attention to me. 
Surely she could look at the view afterwards.” ” Shall I throw 
him downstairs ? ” asked my husband. “ No," 1 said, “ I find 
him enchantingly himself.” It was interesting to see what kind 
of person would have organised my life had I been unfortunate 
enough, or indeed attractive enough, to become the inmate of 
a brothel. So we obeyed him when he sharply demanded that 
we should sit on the floor, and listened while he described what 
the service of a formal Turkish dinner was like, betraying his 
kind with every word, for he took it for granted that we should 
find all its habits grotesque, and that our point of view was the 
proper one. ” And now,” he said, rising and giving a mechani- 
cal leer at my ankles as I scrambled off the floor, ” I shall show 
you the harem. There are Turkish girls, beautiful Turkish 

At a window in the passage he paused and pointed out an 
observation post in the roof of the servants' house. ” A eunuch 
used to sit there to see who came into the house,” he said. " A 
eunuch,” he repeated, with a sense of luxuriance highly inap. 
propriate to the word. He then flung open a door so that we 
looked into a room and saw three girls who turned towards us, 
affected horror and shielded their faces with one hand while 
with the other they groped frantically but inefhciently for some 
coloured handkerchiefs that were lying on a table beside them. 
Meanwhile the custodian had also affected horror and banged 
the door. “ By God, it is the Pink 'Un and the Pelican,” said 
my husband. Then the custodian knocked on the door with an 
air of exaggerated care, and after waiting for a summons he 
slowly led us in. " Typical beautiful Turkish girls,” he said. 
They were not. Instead of wearing the black veil that hides the 
whole face, which almost all Yugoslavian Moslems wear, they 
wore such handkerchiefs as Christian peasant women use to 
cover their hair, but knotted untidily at the back of the head so 
that their brows and eyes were bare. " Now they are cultivating 
our beautiful Turkish crafts,” he explained. They were not. 
Turkish embroidery and weaving are indeed delicious ; but two 
of these wenches held in their hands handkerchiefs of the 
offensive sort that my husband had rejected in the market-place. 



and the third was sitting at a loom on which a carpet which 
ought never to have been begun had been a quarter finished. 

After we had contemplated them for some time, while they 
wriggled on their seats and tittered to express a reaction to my 
husband which both he and I, for our different reasons, thought 
qmte unsuitable, the custodian said, “ Now, we will leave the 
ladies by themselves," and, nodding lecherously at me, led my 
husband out of the room. I found this disconcerting but sup- 
posed he had taken my husband away to show him some 
beautiful Turkish " feelthy peectures ”, in which case they 
would be back soon enough. As soon as we were alone the 
girls took off their veils and showed that they were not ill- 
looking, though they were extremely spotty and had an in- 
ordinate number of gold teeth. They suggested that I should 
buy some of the offensive handkerchiefs, but I refused. I meant 
to ask my husband to give them some money when he came back. 

To pass the time I went over to the girl at the loom and 
stood beside her, looking down on her hands, as if I wanted to 
see how a carpet was made. But she did nothing, and suddenly 
I realised she was angry and embarrassed. She did not know 
how to weave a carpet any more than I do ; and the girls with 
the handkerchiefs did not know how to sew, they were merely 
holding them with threaded needles stuck in them. They all 
began to laugh very loudly and exchange bitter remarks, and 
I reflected how sad it is that slight knowledge of a foreign 
tongue lets one in not at the front door but at the back. I have 
heard poems recited and sermons preached in the Serbian 
language which were said to be masterpieces by those who were 
in a position to judge, and I have been unable to understand one 
word. But I was able to grasp clearly most of what these young 
women were saying about me, my husband, my father and my 

The scene was horrible, because they looked not only 
truculent, but unhappy. They were ashamed because I had 
detected that they could not sew or weave, for the only women 
in the Balkans who cannot handle a needle or a loom are the 
poorest of the urban population, who are poorer than any 
peasant, and cannot get hold of cloth or thread because they 
have no sheep. The scene was pitiful in itself, and it was 
pitiful in its implications, if one thought of the fair-mannered 
and decent Moslem men and women in Trebinye and all over 


Yugoslavia, sad because they knew themselves dead and buried 
in their lifetime, coffined in the shell of a perished empire, whose 
ways these poor wretches were aping and defiling. 1 could not 
bear to wait there any longer, so I left them and walked through 
the house, calling for my husband. The search became dis- 
agreeable, for I opened the door of one or two rooms, and found 
them full of trunks and bundles lying on the bare floor, stuffed 
with objects but open and unfastened, as if someone here had 
meditated flight and then given up the plan on finding that the 
catastrophe which he had hoped to escape was universal. 

I called louder, and he answered me from a room by the 
main door. “ What did he take you away for ? ” I asked. “ He 
didn’t take me away for anything but to give you the thrilling 
experience of seeing those wenches unveiled,” said my husband. 
The custodian came forward and said, “ I have been showing 
your husband these beautiful Turkish books ; they have been 
in this house for many centuries.” He thrust into my hand a 
battered copy of the Koran, which fell open at a page bearing 
a little round label printed with some words in the Cyrillic 
script. ” Oh, Lord 1 oh. Lord ! ” I said. “ This is the stamp of 
a Sarajevo second-hand book-shop.” ” Really, this is all too 
bloody silly,” said my husband ; ” it is like charades played 
by idiot ghosts round their tombs in a cemetery.” We went 
out into the courtyard, followed by the custodian, who seemed 
at last to realise that we were not pleased by his entertainment. 
*' Do they speak Serbian or not ? ” he asked our guide. " No, 
I don’t think so,” he was answered. He looked puzzled and 
decided to assume that life as he knew it was continuing in its 
usual course. So he gave us the Turkish greeting by raising 
his hand to his forehead, exposing that national custom to our 
patronage or derision, he did not care which it was so long as 
we tipped him, and he said, ” Now you have met a Turkish 
gentleman and seen how all Turkish gentlemen used to live.” 
My husband gave him money, and we walked away very 
quickly. The guide said, " Were you pleased with the visit 7 
It is interesting, is it not 7 ” My husband asked, " Who is 
that man 7 ” “ He used to be the servant of the owner of the 
house,” said the guide. “ Who is the owner 7 ” my husband 
asked. " He is a Moslem baron,” said the guide. " Once his 
family was very rich, now he is very poor. He furnished this 
house and put his servant in charge of it, and I think the money 


he gets from it is nearly all that he has. He lives far out in the 
country, where it is very cheap.” . 

When we were driving out of the town I said, “ I hate the 
corpses of empires, they stink as nothing else. They stink so 
badly that I cannot believe that even in life they were healthy.” 
“ I do not think you can convince mankind,” said my husband, 
" that there is not a certain magnificence about a great empire 
in being." “ Of course there is,” I admitted, “ but the hideous- 
ness outweighs the beauty. You are not, I hope, going to tell 
me that they impose law on lawless people. Elmpires live by 
the violation of law." Below us now lay the huge Austrian- 
built barracks, with the paddocks between them, and I re- 
membered again what I had hated to speak of as we drove into 
Trebinye, when we were out to have an amusing morning. Here 
the Herzegovinians had found that one empire is very like another, 
that Austria was no better than Turkey. Between these barracks 
the Austrian Empire killed eighty people for causes that would 
have been recognised on no statute book framed by man since 
the beginning of time. 

When the news came in 1914 that the Archduke Franz 
Ferdinand and his wife had been assassinated by Serb patriots 
at Sarajevo, the Austrian authorities throughout Bosnia and 
Herzegovina arrested all the peasants whom they knew to be 
anti-Austrian in sentiment and imprisoned some and hanged 
the rest. There was no attempt at finding out whether they 
had been connected with the assassins, as, in fact, none of them 
were. Down there on the grass between the barracks the 
Austrians took as contribution from Trebinye seventy Serbs, 
including three women, such women as we saw in the market- 
place. Someone I met in Sarajevo on my first visit to Yugoslavia 
had had a relative killed there, and had kept photographs of 
the slaughter which the Yugoslavian Government had found 
among the Austrian police records. They showed the essential 
injustice of hanging ; the hanged look grotesque, they are not 
allowed the dignity that belongs to the crucified, although they 
are enduring as harsh a destiny. The women looked particularly 
grotesque, with their full skirts; they looked like ikons, as 
Constantine had said Slav women should look when dancing. 
Most of them wore an expression of astonishment. I remember 
one priest who was being led through a double line of gibbets 
to his own ; he looked not horrified but simply surprised. That 


indeed was natural enough, for surprise must have been the 
predominant emotion of most of the victims. They cannot have 
expected the crime, for though it was known to a large number 
of people these were to be found only in a few towns, far away 
from Trebinye : and when they heard of it they can never have 
dreamed that they would be connected with it. 

" The scene was a typical illustration of the hypocrisy of 
empires, which pretend to be strong and yet are so weak that 
they constantly have to defend themselves by destroying 
individuals of the most pitiable weakness,” I said. ” But an 
empire," my husband reminded me, “ can perform certain 
actions which a single nation never can. The Turks might have 
stayed for ever in Europe if it had not been for the same com- 
bination of forces known as the Austrian Empire.” “ But 
there was no need for them to combine once the Turks were 
beaten,” I objected ; ” in the nineteenth century the Turks 
were hopelessly beaten, and the Porte was falling to pieces 
under the world’s eye, yet the Austrians were flogging their 
peoples to keep them in subjection exactly as if there were a 
terrifying enemy at their gates.” “ Yes, but by that time there 
were the Russians,” said my husband. " Yes, but Czarist 
Russia was a rotten state that nobody need have feared,” I 
said. “ That, oddly enough, is something that no nation ever 
knows about another,” said my husband ; " it appears to be 
quite impossible for any nation to discover with any accuracy 
the state of preparedness for war in another nation. In the 
last war both Great Britain and Serbia were grossly deceived 
by their ideas of what support they were going to receive from 
Russia ; and Germany was just as grossly deceived by her 
ally Austria, who turned out to be as weak as water.” " But 
how absurd the behaviour of nations is I ” I exclaimed. " If I 
ran about compelling people to suffer endless inconveniences by 
joining with me in a defensive alliance against someone who 
might conceivably injure me, and never took proper steps to 
find out if my companions were strong enough to aid me or my 
enemies strong enough to injure me, I would be considered to 
be making a fool of myself.” " But the rules that apply to 
individuals do not apply to nations,” said my husband ; “ the 
situation is quite different.” And indeed I suppose that I was 
being, in my female way, an idiot, an excessively private person, 
like the nurse in the clinic who could not understand my agita- 



tion about the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia. 
But it is just to admit that my husband was indulging his male 
bent in regard to intemation^ affairs, and was being a lunatic. 

When we were well on our way back to our hotel at Gruzh, 
past Dubrovnik and among the lovely terraced gardens of its 
suburb Larpad, my husband said, “ When we were in that 
idiot house at Trebinye, which was like Hamlet without the 
Prince of Denmark, a brothel with the sexual intercourse left 
out, I could not help thinking of that poor chap we came on in 
that farm over there.” We had a night or two before walked 
up to the top of Petka, a pine-covered hill at the edge of the sea, 
and after seeing the best of the sunset had strolled over the 
olive groves towards Dubrovnik and dinner. We had missed 
our path and when the dark fell we were wandering in an 
orchard beside a farm, obviously very old, and so strongly built 
that it had a fortress air. The place bore many touches of decay, 
and the steps between the terraces crumbled under our feet ; 
we took one path and it led us to a lone sheep in a pen, the 
other brought us to a shut wooden door in a cavern-mouth. 
We felt our way back to the still mass of the farm, and we heard 
from an open window the rise and fall of two clear voices, 
speaking in a rhythm that suggested a sense of style, that 
recognised the need for restraint, and within that limit could 
practise the limitless freedom of wit. Both of us assumed that 
there were living in this house people who would certainly be 
cosmopolitan and polyglot, perhaps ruined nobles of Dubrovnik, 
or a family from Zagreb who had found a perfect holiday villa. 

We knocked confidently at the door, and prepared to ask 
the way in German. But the door was opened by a man wearing 
peasant costume and a fez, and behind the light of an oil-lamp 
hung on a wall shone down on a room paved with flagstones, 
in which a few sacks and barrels lay about in a disorder that 
suggested not so much carelessness as depression. At the back 
of the room sat a woman who gracefully turned away her head 
and put up her hand to hide her face, with a gesture that we 
were later to see parodied and profaned by the girls in the 
Turkish house at Trebinye. The man was a tall darkness to us, 
and he remained quite still when my husband spoke to him in 
German and Italian. Then I asked him in my bad Serbian 
how we might get to Dubrovnik, and he told me slowly and 
courteously that we must go round the comer of the house 


and follow a landward wall. Then I said " Sbogom,” which 
means " With God ” and is the Serbian good-bye. He echoed it 
with the least possible touch of irony, and I perceived I had 
spoken the word with the wrong accent, with a long lift on the 
first syllable instead of a short fall. 

We moved away in the darkness, turned the angle of the 
house, and found a cobbled path beside the wall. As we stood 
there a door in the house behind us suddenly opened, and there 
stood the tall man again. “ Good ! ” he said, and shut the 
door. It had been done ostensibly to see that we were on the 
right path, but really it had been done to startle us, as a child 
might have done it. It was as if this man who was in his body 
completely male, completely adult, a true Slav, but had the 
characteristic fire and chevaleresque manners of the Moslem, 
had not enough material to work on in this half-ruined farm, 
and had receded into childishness of a sort one can dimly 
remember. As one used to sit in the loft and look down on the 
people passing in the village street, and think, " They can’t see 
me. I’m sitting here and looking at them and they don’t know 
it ; if I threw an apple at their feet they wouldn’t guess where it 
came from,” so he, this tall man sitting in this fortress, had told 
himself, ” They won’t know there is a door there, they will be 
startled when I open it,” and the empty evening had passed a 
little quicker for the game. 

I said, looking down the slopes towards the sea, " It was 
odd a Moslem should be living there. But it is a place that has 
only recently been resettled. Until the Great War this district 
was largely left as it was after it had been devastated in the 
Napoleonic wars. Ah, what a disgusting story that is I See, 
all day long we have seen evidences of the crimes and follies of 
empires, and here is evidence of how murderous and imbecile a 
man can become when he is possessed by the Imperial idea.” 
" Yes,” said my husband, “ the end of Dubrovnik is one of the 
worst of stories.” 

When France and Russia started fighting after the peace 
of Pressburg in 1805 Dubrovnik found itself in a pincer between 
the two armies. The Republic had developed a genius for 
neutrality throughout the ages, but this was a situation which 
no negotiation could resolve. The Russians were in Montenegro,' 
and the French were well south of Split. At this point Count 
Caboga proposed that the inhabitants of Dubrovnik should ask 



the Sultan to grant them Turkish nationality and to allow them 
to settle on a Greek island where they would carry on their tradi- 
tions. The plan was abandoned, because Napoleon’s promises 
of handsome treatment induced them to open their gates. This 
meant their commercial ruin, for the time, at least, since after 
that ships from Dubrovnik were laid under an embargo in the 
ports of all countries which were at war with France. It 
also meant that the Russian and Montenegrin armies invaded 
their territory and sacked and burned all the summer palaces 
in the exquisite suburbs of Larpad and Gruzh, hammering 
down the wrought-iron gates and marble terraces, beating to 
earth the rose gardens and oleander groves and orchards, firing 
the houses themselves and the treasures their owners had ac- 
cumulated in the last thousand years from the best of East and 
West. The Russians and Montenegrins acted with special 
fervour because they believed, owing to a time-lag in popular 
communication and ignorance of geography, that they were thus 
defending Christianity against the atheism of the French 

When Napoleon was victorious the inhabitants of Dubrovnik 
expected that since they had been his allies they would be com- 
pensated for the disasters the alliance had brought on them. 
But he sent Marshal Marmont to read a decree to the Senate 
in the Rector's Palace, and its first article declared : “ The 
Republic of Ragusa has ceased to exist ”. This action shows 
that Napoleon was not, as is sometimes pretended, morally 
superior to the dictators of to-day. It was an act of Judas. 
He had won the support of Dubrovnik by promising to recognise 
its independence. He had proclaimed when he founded the 
Illyrian provinces that the cause of Slav liberation was dear to 
him ; he now annulled the only independent Slav community 
in Balkan territory. He defended his wars and aggressions on 
the gp-ound that he desired to make Europe stable ; but when 
he found a masterpiece of stability under his hand he threw it 
away and stamped it into the mud. 

There is no redeeming feature in this betrayal. Napoleon 
gave the Republic nothing in exchange for its independence. 
He abolished its constitution, which turned against him the 
nobles, from whom he should have drawn his administrators, 
as the Venetians had always done in the other Adriatic cities. 
Hence, unadvised, he committed blunder after blunder in 


Dalmatia. In a hasty effort at reform he repealed the law that 
a peasant could never own his land but held it as a hereditary 
tenant, and therefore could never sell it. In this poverty- 
stricken land this was a catastrophe, for thereafter a peasant’s 
land could be seized for debt. He also applied to the territory 
the Concordat he had bullied Pius VII into signing, which 
bribed the Church into becoming an agent of French imperialism, 
and caused a passionately devout population to feel that its 
faith was being tampered with for political purposes. This last 
decree was not made more popular because its execution Wcis in 
the hands of a civil governor, one Dandolo, a Venetian who 
was not a member of the patrician family of that name, but the 
descendant of a Jew who had had a Dandolo as a sponsor at his 
baptism and had, as was the custom of the time, adopted his 
name. These errors, combined with the brutal indifference 
which discouraged Marmont’s efforts to develop the country, 
make it impossible to believe that Napoleon was a genius in 
1808. Yet without doubt he was a genius till the turn of the 
century. It would seem that Empire degrades those it uplifts 
as much as those it holds down in subjection. 


Because there was a wire from Constantine announcing 
that he would arrive at Sarajevo the next day, we had to leave 
Dubrovnik, although it was raining so extravagantly that we 
saw only little vignettes of the road. An Irish friend went with 
us part of the way, for we were able to drop him at a farmhouse 
fifteen miles or so along the coast, where he was lodging. 
Sometimes he made us jump from the car and peer at a marvel 
through the downward streams. So we saw the source of the 
Ombla, which is a real jaw-dropping wonder, a river-mouth 
without any river. It is one of the outlets of the grey-green 
waters we had seen running through Trebinye, which suddenly 
disappear into the earth near that town and reach here after 
twenty miles of uncharted adventure under the limestone. 
There is a cliff and a green tree, and between them a gush 
of water. It stops below a bridge and becomes instantly, with- 
out a minute's preparation, a river as wide as the Thames at 
Kingston, which flows gloriously out to sea between a marge 
of palaces and churches standing among trees and flowers, in a 


scene sumptuously, incredibly, operatically romantic. 

Our sightseeing made us dripping wet, and we were glad 
to take shelter for a minute or two in our friend’s lodgings and 
warm ourselves at the fire and meet his very agreeable landlady. 
While we were there two of her friends dropped in, a man from 
a village high up on the hills, a woman from a nearer village 
a good deal lower down the slopes. They had called to pay 
their respects after the funeral of the landlady’s aunt, which 
had happened a few days before. Our Irish friend told us that 
the interment had seemed very strange to his eyes, because 
wood is so scarce and dear there that the old lady had had no 
coffin at all, and had been bundled up in the best table-cloth. 
But because stone is so cheap the family vault which received 
her was like a ducal mausoleum. The man from the upland 
village went away first, and as the landlady took him out to 
the door our Irish friend said to the woman from the foothills 
" He seems very nice.” “ Do you think so ? ” said the woman 
Her nose seemed literally to turn up. ” Well, don’t you ? " 
asked our friend. “ We-e-e-ell,” said the woman, “ round about 
here we don’t care much for people from that village,” “ Why 
not ? ” asked our friend. “ We-e-e-ell, for one thing, you some- 
times go up there and you smell cabbage soup, and you say, 
‘ That smells good,’ and they say, ‘ Oh, we’re just having 
cabbage soup.’ ” A pause fell, and our friend enquired, ” Then 
don’t they offer you any ? ” " Oh, yes.” " And isn’t it good ? ” 
" It’s very good. But, you see, we grow cabbages down here 
and they can’t up there, and they never buy any from us, and 
we’re always missing ours. So, really, we don’t know what 
to think.” 


I was so wearied by the rushing rain that I slept, and woke 
again in a different country. Our road ran on a ledge between 
the bare mountains and one of these strange valleys that are 
wide lakes in winter and dry land by summer. This, in spite of 
the rain, was draining itself, and trees and hedges floated in a 
mirror patterned with their own reflections and the rich earth 
that was starting to thrust itself up through the thinning waters 
We came past a great tobacco factory to Metkovitch, a river 
port like any other, with sea-going ships lying up by the quay, 

VOL. I i; 


looking too big for their quarters. There we stopped in the hotel 
for some coffee, and for the first time recognised the fly-blown, 
dusty, waking dream atmosphere that lingers in Balkan districts 
where the Turk has been. In this hotel I found the most west- 
ward Turkish lavatory I have ever encountered : a hole in the 
floor with a depression for a foot on each side of it, and a tap 
that sends water flowing along a groove laid with some relevance 
to the business in hand. It is efficient enough in a cleanly kept 
household, but it is disconcerting in its proof that there is more 
than one way of doing absolutely anything. 

Later we travelled in a rough Scottish country, where people 
walked under crashing rain, unbowed by it. They wore rain- 
coats of black fleeces or thickly woven grasses, a kind of thatch ; 
and some had great hoods of stiffened white linen, that made a 
narrow alcove for the head and a broad alcove for the shoulders 
and hung nearly to the waist. These last looked like inquisitors 
robed for solemn mischief, but none of them were dour. The 
women and girls were full of laughter, and ran from the mud 
our wheels threw at them as if it were a game. Moslem grave- 
yards began to preach their lesson of indifference to the dead. 
The stone stumps, carved with a turban if the commemorated 
corpse were male and left plain if it were female, stood crooked 
among the long grasses and the wild irises, which the rain was 
beating flat. Under a broken Roman arch crouched an old 
shepherd, shielding his turban, which, being yellow, showed that 
he had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. 

The rain lifted, we were following a broad upland valley 
and looked over pastures and a broad river at the elegance of 
a small Moslem town,’ with its lovely minarets. It was ex- 
quisitely planned, its towers refined by the influence of the 
minarets, its red-roofed houses lying among the plumy foliage 
of their walled gardens ; it was in no way remarkable, there are 
thousands of Moslem towns like it. We left it unvisited, and 
went on past an aerodrome with its hangars, past the barracks 
and the tobacco factory that stand in the outskirts of any con- 
siderable Herzegovinian town, and were in Mostar, “ Stari 
most ”, old bridge Presently we were looking at that bridge, 
which is falsely said to have been built by the Emperor Trajan, 
but is of medieval Turkish workmanship. It is one of the most 
beautiful bridges in the world. A slender arch lies between two 
round towers, its parapet bent in a shallow angle in the centre. 



To look at it is good ; to stand on it is as good. Over the 
grey-green river swoop hundreds of swallows, and on the banks 
mosques and white houses stand among glades of trees and 
bushes. The swallows and the glades know nothing of the 
mosques and houses. The river might be running through 
unvisited hills instead of a town of twenty thousand inhabitants. 
There was not an old tin, not a rag of paper to be seen. This 
was certainly not due to any scavenging service. In the Balkans 
people are more apt to sit down and look at disorder and discuss 
its essence than clear it away. It was more likely to be due to 
the Moslem’s love of nature, especially of running water, which 
would prevent him from desecrating the scene with litter in the 
first place. I marvelled, as I had done on my previous visit to 
Yugoslavia, at the contradictory attitudes of the Moslem to such 

They build beautiful towns and villages. I know of no 
country, not even Italy or Spain, where each house in a group 
will be placed with such invariable taste and such pleasing 
results for those who look at it and out of it alike. The archi- 
tectural formula of a Turkish house, with its reticent defensive 
lower storey and its projecting upper storey, full of windows, 
is simple and sensible ; and I know nothing neater than its 
interior. Western housewifery is sluttish compared to that 
aseptic order. Yet Mostar, till the Austrians came, had no 
hotels except bug-ridden shacks, and it was hard to get the 
Moslems to abandon their habit of casually slaughtering animals 
in the streets. Even now the average Moslem shop is the anti- 
thesis of the Moslem house. It is a shabby little hole, often 
with a glassless front, which must be cold in winter and stifling 
in summer, and its goods are arranged in fantastic disorder. In a 
stationer’s shop the picture-postcards will have been left in the 
sun till they are faded, and the exercise-books will be foxed. In 
a textile shop the bolts of stuff will be stacked in untidy tottering 
ing heaps. The only exceptions are the bakeries, where the flat 
loaves and buns are arranged in charming geometric patterns, 
and the greengroceries, where there is manifest pleasure in the 
colour and shape of the vegetables. There are indeed, evident 
in all Moslem life coequal strains of extreme fastidiousness and 
extreme slovenliness, and it is impossible to predict where or 
why the one or the other is going to take control. A mosque 
is the most spick and span place of worship in the world ; but' 


any attempt to postulate a connection in the Moslem mind 
between holiness and cleanliness will break down at the first 
sight of a mosque which for some reason, perhaps a shifting of 
the population, is no longer used. It will have been allowed to 
fall into a squalor that recalls the worst Western slums. 

The huge caf6 of our hotel covered the whole ground floor, 
and had two billiard-tables in the centre. For dinner we ate the 
trout of the place, which is famous and, we thought, horrible, 
like fish crossed with slug. But we ate also a superb cheese 
souffle. The meal was served with incredible delay, and between 
the courses we read the newspapers and looked about us. 
Moslems came in from the streets, exotic in fezes. They hung 
them up and went to their seats and played draughts and drank 
black coffee, no longer Moslems, merely men. Young officers 
moved rhythmically through the beams of white light that 
poured down upon the acid green of the billiard-tables, and the 
billiard balls gave out their sound of stoical shock. There was 
immanent the Balkan feeling of a shiftless yet just doom. It 
seemed possible that someone might come into the room, per- 
haps a man who would hang up his fez, and explain, in terms 
just comprehensible enough to make it certain they were not 
nonsensical, that all the people at the tables must stay there 
until the two officers who were playing billiards at that moment 
had played a million games, and that by the result their eternal 
fates would be decided ; and that this would be accepted, and 
people would sit there quietly waiting and reading the news- 

Here in Mostar the really adventurous part of our journey 
began. Something that had been present in every breath we drew 
in Dalmatia and Croatia was absent when we woke the next 
morning, and dressed and breakfasted with our eyes on the 
market square beneath our windows. It might be identified 
as conformity in custom as well as creed. The people we were 
watching adhered with intensity to certain faiths. They were 
Moslem, they were Catholic, they were Orthodox. About 
marriage, about birth, about death, they practise immutable 
rites, determined by these faiths and the older faiths that lie 
behind them. But in all other ways they were highly in- 
dividualistic. Their goings and comings, their eating and 
drinking, were timed by no communal programme, their choice 
of destiny might be made on grounds so private as to mean 



nothing to any other human being. Such an attitude showed 
itself in the crowds below us in a free motion that is the very 
antithesis in spirit to what we see when we watch people walk- 
ing to their work over London Bridge in the morning. It 
showed too in their faces, which always spoke of thought that 
was never fully shared, of scepticism and satire and lyricism 
that felt no deed to have been yet finally judged. 

It showed itself also in their dress. Neither here nor any- 
where else do single individuals dare while sane to dress en- 
tirely according to their whim ; and the Moslems keep to their 
veils and fezes with a special punctilio, because these mark 
them out as participants in the former grandeur of the Ottoman 
Empire. But here the smallest village or, in a town, a suburb * 
or even a street, can have its own fantasy of costume. The men 
go in less for variations than the women, for in the classic 
costume of these parts the male has found as becoming a dress 
as has ever been devised for him. The stiff braided jacket has 
a look of ceremony, of mastership about it, and the trousers 
give the outer line of the leg from the hip to the ankle and make 
it seem longer by bagging between the thighs. But the women 
presented us with uncountable variations. We liked two 
women, grey-haired and harsh-featured, who looked like Mar- 
gate landladies discussing the ingenious austerities of the day’s 
menus, until a boy wheeled away a barrow and we could see 
their long full serge bloomers. Other women wore tight bodices 
and jackets and bagg^ trousers, each garment made of a 
different sort of printed material, such as we use for country 
curtains ; but though these wore the Moslem trousers they 
were Christians, for their faces were unveiled, and they covered 
their heads loosely with what we know as Paisley shawls. 
The Moslems slid about black-muzzled, wearing their cotton 
wrappers, which were usually striped in coldish colours, greys 
and slate-blues and substanceless reds, except for those who 
wore that costume one sees in Mostar and not again when one 
leaves it, unless one’s journey takes one very far : to Turkestan, 

I have heard it said. 

The costume is as stirring to the imagination and as idiotic- 
ally unpractical as any I have ever seen. The great point in 
favour of Moslem dress in its Yugoslavian form is a convenience 
in hot weather, which in these parts is a serious consideration, 
for even in Mostar the summer is an affliction. The cotton 


overall keeps the hair and the clothes clean, and the veil pro- 
tects the face from dust and insects and sunburn. This is not 
true of the heavy horse-hair veil worn in the real East, where 
the accumulation of dust is turned by the breath of the mouth 
and nostrils to actual mud, but the light black veil of voile or 
cotton does no harm and a great deal of good. There is, however, 
no such justification for the traditional Mostar costume. It con- 
sists of a man’s coat, made in black or blue cloth, immensely 
too large for the woman who is going to wear it. It is cut with 
a stiff military collar, very high, perhaps as much as eight or 
ten inches, which is embroidered inside, not outside, with gold 
thread. It is never worn as a coat. The woman slips it over 
*her, drawing the shoulders above her head, so that the stiff 
collar falls forward and projects in front of her like a vizor, and 
she can hide her face if she clutches the edges together, so that 
she need not wear a veil. The sleeves are allowed to hang loose 
or are stitched together at the back, but nothing can be done 
with the skirts, which drag on the ground. 

We asked the people in the hotel and several tradesmen in 
Mostar, and a number of Moslems in other places, whether 
there was any local legend which accounted for this extra- 
ordinary garment, for it seemed it must commemorate some 
occasion when a woman had disguised herself in her husband's 
coat in order to perform an act of valour. But if there was 
ever such a legend it hcis been forgotten. The costume may 
have some value as a badge of class, for it could be worn with 
comfort and cleanliness only by a woman of the leisured classes, 
who need not go out save when she chooses. It would be most 
inconvenient in wet weather or on rough ground, and a woman 
could not carry or lead a child while she was wearing it. But 
perhaps it survives chiefly by its poetic value, by its symbolic 
references to the sex it clothes. 

It has the power of a dream or a work of art that has several 
interpretations, that explains several aspects of reality at one 
and the same time. First and most obviously the little woman 
in the tall man’s coat presents the contrast between man and 
woman at its most simple and playful, as the contrast between 
heaviness and lightness, between coarseness and fragility, 
between that which breaks and that which might be broken 
but is instead preserved and cherished, for the sake of tenderness 
and joy. It makes man and woman seem as father and daughter. 



The little girl is wearing her father’s coat and laughs at him 
from the depths of it, she pretends that it is a magic garment 
and that she is invisible and can hide from him. Its dimensions 
favour this fantasy. The Herzegovinian is tall, but not such a 
giant as this coat was made to fit. I am barely five-foot-four and 
my husband is close on six-foot-two, but when I tried on his 
overcoat in this fashion the hem was well above my ankles ; 
yet the Mostar garment trails about its wearer’s feet. 

But it presents the female also in a more sinister light ; 
as the male sees her when he fears her. The dark vizor gives 
her the beak of a bird of prey, and the flash of gold thread 
within the collar suggests private and ensnaring delights. A 
torch is put to those fires of the imagination which need for 
fuel dreams of pain, annihilation and pleasure. The austere 
yet lubricious beauty of the coat gives a special and terrifying 
emphasis to the meaning inherent in all these Eastern styles of 
costume which hide women’s faces. That meaning does not 
relate directly to sexual matters ; it springs from a state of mind 
more impersonal, even metaphysical, though primitive enough 
to be sickening. The veil perpetuates and renews a moment 
when man, being in league with death, like all creatures that 
must die, hated his kind for living and transmitting life, and 
hated woman more than himself, because she is the instrument 
of birth, and put his hand to the floor to find filth and plastered 
it on her face, to aflront the breath of life in her nostrils. There 
is about all veiled women a sense of melancholy quite incom- 
mensurate with the inconveniences they themselves may be 
suffering. Even when, like the women of Mostar, they seem 
to be hastening towards secret and luxurious and humorous love- 
making, they hint of a general surrender to mortality, a futile 
attempt of the living to renounce life. 



A MOSLEM woman walking black-faced in white robes 
among the terraces of a blossoming orchard, her arms 
kfull of irises, was the last we saw of the Herzegovinian 
plains ; and our road took us into mountains, at hrst so gruffly 
barren, so coarsely rocky that they were almost squalid. Then 
we followed a lovely rushing river, and the heights were miti- 
gated by spring woods, reddish here with the foliage of young 
oaks, that ran up to snow peaks. This river received tributaries 
after the astonishing custom of this limestone country, as un- 
polluted gifts straight from the rock face. One strong flood 
burst into the river at right angles, flush with the surface, an 
astonishing disturbance. Over the boulders ranged the exuber- 
ant hellebore with its pale-green flowers. 

But soon the country softened, and the mountains were 
tamed and bridled by their woodlands and posed as background 
to sweet small compositions of waterfalls, fruit trees and green 
lawns. The expression " sylvan dell ” seemed again to mean 
something. We looked across a valley to Yablanitsa, the Town 
of Poplars, which was the pleasure resort of Mostar when the 
Austrians were here, where their offlcers went in the heat of the 
summer for a little gambling and horse-racing. Before its 
minarets was a plateau covered with fields of young corn in 
their first pale, strong green, vibrant as a high C from a celestial 
soprano, and orchards white with cherry and plum. We drove 
up an avenue of bronze and gold budding ash trees, and lovely 
children dashed out of a school and saluted us as a sign and 
wonder. We saw other lovely children later, outside a gipsy 
encampment of tents made with extreme simplicity of pieces 



In front of the Archduke sits General Potiorek, Go\-crnor of Bosnia 



of black canvas hung over a bar and tethered to the ground on 
each side. Our Swabian chauffeur drove at a pace incredible 
for him, lest we should give them pennies. 

A neat village called Little Horse ran like a looped whip 
round a bridged valley, and we wondered to see in the heart 
of the country so many urban-looking little caf^s where men 
sat and drank coffee. The road mounted and spring ran back- 
wards like a reversed him, we were among trees that had not 
yet put out a bud, and from a high pass we looked back at a 
tremendous circle of snow peaks about whose feet we had run 
unwitting. We fell again through Swissish country, between 
banks blonde with primroses, into richer country full of stranger 
people. Gipsies, supple and golden creatures whom the window- 
curtains of Golders Green had clothed in the colours of the 
sunrise and the sunset, gave us greetings and laughter ; Moslem 
women walking unveiled towards the road turned their backs 
until we passed, or if there was a wall near by sought it and 
flattened their faces against it. We came to a wide valley, 
flanked with hills that, according to the curious conformation, 
run not east and west nor north and south but in all directions, 
so that the view changed every instant and the earth seemed as 
fluid and restless as the ocean. 

“ We are quite near Sarajevo,” I said ; ” it is at the end of 
this valley.” Though I was right, we did not arrive there for 
some time. The main road was under repair and we had to 
make a detour along a road so bad that the mud spouted 
higher than the car, and after a mile or so our faces and top- 
coats were covered with it. This is really an undeveloped 
country, one cannot come and go yet as one chooses. 

Sareg'evo I 

" Look,” I said, “ the river at Sarajevo runs red. That I 
think a bit too much. The pathetic fallacy really ought not to 
play with such painful matters." " Yes, it is as blatant as a 
propagandist poster,” said my husband. We were standing on 
the bridge over which the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife 
would have driven on the morning of June the twenty-eighth, 
1914, if they had not been shot by a Bosnian named Gavrilo 
Princip, just as their car was turning off the embankment. 


We shuddered and crossed to the other bank, where there 
was a little park with a caf£ in it. We sat and drank coffee, 
looking at the Pyrus Japonica and the white lilacs, that grew all 
round us, and the people, who were almost as decorative as 
flowers. At the next table sat a Moslem woman wearing a 
silk overall striped in lilac and purple and dull blue. Her long 
narrow hand shot out of its folds to spoon a drop from a glass 
of water into her coffee-cup ; here there is Turkish coffee, which 
carries its grounds in suspension, and the cold drop precipitates 
them. Her hand shot out again to hold her veil just high enough 
to let her other hand carry the cup to her lips. When she was 
not drinking she sat quite still, the light breeze pressing her 
black veil against her features. Her stillness was more than the 
habit of a Western woman, yet the uncovering of her mouth and 
chin had shown her completely un-Oriental, as luminously fair 
as any Scandinavian. Further away two Moslem men sat on a 
bench and talked politics, beating with their fingers on the 
headlines of a newspaper. Both were tall, raw-boned, bronze- 
haired, with eyes crackling with sheer blueness : Danish sea 
captains, perhaps, had they not been wearing the fez. 

We noted then, and were to note it again and again as we 
went about the city, that such sights gave it a special appearance. 
The costumes which we regard as the distinguishing badge 
of an Oriental race, proof positive that the European frontier 
has been crossed, are worn by people far less Oriental in aspect 
than, say, the Latins ; and this makes Sarajevo look like a 
fancy-dress ball. There is also an air of immense luxury about 
the town, of unwavering dedication to pleasure, which makes 
it credible that it would hold a festivity on so extensive and 
costly a scale. This air is, strictly speaking, a deception, since 
Sarajevo is stuffed with poverty of a most denuded kind. The 
standard of living among the working classes is lower than even 
in our great Western cities. But there is also a solid foundation 
of moderate wealth. The Moslems here scorned trade but they 
were landowners, and their descendants hold the remnants of 
their fortunes and are now functionaries and professional men. 
The trade they rejected fell into the hands of the Christians, who 
therefore grew in the towns to be a wealthy and privileged class, 
completely out of touch with the oppressed Christian peasants 
outside the city walls. There is also a Jewish colony here, 
descended from a group who came here from Spain after the 



expulsory decrees of Ferdinand and Isabella, and grafted itself 
on an older group which had been in the Balkans from time 
immemorial ; it has acquired wealth and culture. So the town 
lies full-fed in the trough by the red river, and rises up the bowl 
of the blunt-ended valley in happy, open suburbs where hand- 
some houses stand among their fruit trees. There one may live 
very pleasantly, looking down on the minarets of the hundred 
mosques of Sarajevo, and the tall poplars that march the 
course of the red-running river. The dead here also make 
for handsomeness, for acres and acres above these suburbs are 
given up to the deliberate carelessness of the Moslem cemeteries, 
where the marble posts stick slantwise among uncorrected grass 
and flowers and ferns, which grow as cheerfully as in any other 

But the air of luxury in Sarajevo has less to do with material 
goods than with the people. They greet delight here with 
unreluctant and sturdy appreciation, they are even prudent 
about it, they will let no drop of pleasure run to waste. It is 
good to wear red and gold and blue and green : the women wear 
them, and in the Moslem bazaar that covers several acres of the 
town with its open-fronted shops, there are handkerchiefs and 
shawls and printed stuff's which say “ 'Yes ” to the idea of 
brightness as only the very rich, who can go to dressmakers 
who are conscious specialists in the eccentric, dare to say it in 
the 'Western world. Men wash in the marble fountain of the 
great mosque facing the bazaar and at the appointed hour 
prostrate themselves in prayer, with the most comfortable 
enjoyment of coolness and repose and the performance of a 
routine in good repute. In the Moslem cookshops they sell 
the great cartwheel tarts made of fat leaf-thin pastry stuffed 
with spinach which presuppose that no man will be ashamed of 
his greed and his liking for grease. The looks the men cast on 
the veiled women, the gait by which the women admit that they 
know they are being looked upon, speak of a romanticism that 
can take its time to dream and resolve because it is the flower 
of the satisfied flesh. This tradition of tranquil sensuality is of 
Moslem origin, and is perhaps still strongest among Moslems, 
but also on Jewish and Christian faces can there be recognised 
this steady light, which makes it seem as if the Puritans who 
banish pleasure and libertines who savage her do worse than 
we had imagined. We had thought of them as destroying harm- 



less beauty: but here we learned to suspect that they throw 
away an instruction necessary for the mastery of life. 

Though Sarajevo has so strong a character it is not old as 
cities go. It was originally a mining town. Up on the heights 
there is to be seen a Turkish fortress, reconditioned by the 
Austrians, and behind it are the old workings of a mine that 
was once exploited by merchants from Dubrovnik. This is not 
to say that it had ever any of the casual and reckless character 
of a modern mining town. In past ages, before it was realised 
that though minerals seem solid enough their habits make them 
not more reliable as supports than the rainbow, a mining town 
would be as sober and confident as any other town built on a 
hopeful industry. But it was neither big nor powerful when it 
fell into the hands of the Turks in 1464. The capital of Bosnia 
was Yaitse, usually but unhelpfully spelt Jajce, about ninety 
miles or so north in the mountains. But after the conquest 
Sarajevo became extremely important as a focal point where 
various human characteristics were demonstrated, one of which 
was purely a local peculiarity, yet was powerful and appalling 
on the grandest scale. 

It happened that the Manichaean heresy, which had touched 
Dalmatia and left its mark so deeply on Trogir, had struck even 
deeper roots in Bosnia, where a sect called the Bogomils had 
attracted a vast proportion of the people, including both the feudal 
lords and the peasants. We do not know much about this sect 
except from their enemies, who were often blatant liars. It is 
thought from the name “ Bogomil ”, which means “ God have 
mercy ” in old Slavonic, and from the behaviour of the surviving 
remnants of the sect, that they practised the habit of ecstatic 
prayer, which comes easy to all Slavs ; and they adapted the dual- 
ism of this heresy to Slav taste. They rejected its Puritanism and 
incorporated in it a number of pre-Christian beliefs and customs, 
including such superstitions as the belief in the haunting of 
certain places by elemental spirits and the practice of gathering 
herbs at certain times and using them with incantations. They 
also gave it a Slav character by introducing a political factor. 
Modern historians suggest that Bogomilism was not so much a 
heresy as a schism, that it represented the attempt of a strong 
national party to form a local church which should be inde- 
pendent of either the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Churches. 

Whatever Bogomilism was, it satisfied the religious neces- 



sities of the mass of Bosnians for nearly two hundred and fifty 
years, notwithstanding the savage attacks of both the Roman 
Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. The Roman Catholic 
Church was the more dangerous of the two. This was not 
because the Orthodox Church had the advantage in tolerance : 
the Council of Constantinople laid it down that Bogomils must 
be burned alive. It was because the political situation in the 
East became more and more unfavourable to the Orthodox 
Church, until finally the coming of the Turks ranged them among 
the objects rather than the inflictors of persecution. The Latin 
Church had no such mellowing misfortunes ; and though for a 
time it lost its harshness towards heretics, and was, for example, 
most merciful towards Jews and Arians under the Carlovingians, 
it was finally urged by popular bigotry and adventurous monarchs 
to take up the sword against the enemies of the faith. 

At the end of the twelfth century we find a King of Dal- 
matia who wanted to seize Bosnia complaining to the Pope 
that the province was full of heretics, and appealing to him to 
get the King of Hungary to expel them. This began a system 
of interference which was for long wholly unavailing. In 1221 
there were none but Bogomil priests in Bosnia, under whom the 
Country was extremely devout. But the zeal of the Church had 
been fired, and in 1247 the Pope endeavoured to inspire the 
Archbishop of Bosnia by describing to him how his predecessors 
had tried to redeem their see by devastating the greater part 
of it and by killing or carrying away in captivity many thousands 
of Bosnians. The people, however, remained obstinately Bogo- 
mil, and as soon as the attention of the Papacy was diverted 
elsewhere, as it was during the Waldensian persecutions and the 
Great Schism, they stood firm in their faith again. Finally it 
was adopted as the official State religion. 

But the Papacy had staked a great deal on Bosnia. It had 
preached crusade after crusade against the land, with full indul- 
gences, as in the case of crusades to Palestine. It had sent out 
brigades of missionaries, who had behaved with glorious hero- 
ism and had in many cases suffered martyrdom. It had used 
every form of political pressure on neighbouring monarchs to 
induce them to invade Bosnia and put it to fire and the sword. 
It had, by backing Catholic usurpers to the Bosnian throne, 
caused perpetual disorder within the kingdom and destroyed all 
possibility of dynastic unity. Now it made one last supreme 

3o6 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

effort. It supported the Emperor Sigismund of Hungary, who 
held Croatia and Dalmatia, and who wished to add Bosnia to his 
kingdom. This was not a step at all likely to promote the cause 
of order. Sigismund was a flighty adventurer whose indifference 
to Slav interests was later shown by his surrender of Dalmatia to 
Venice. But the Pope issued a Bull calling Christendom to a 
crusade against the Turks, the apostate Arians and the heretic 
Bosnians, and the Emperor embarked on a campaign which 
was sheer vexation to the tortured Slav lands, and scored the 
success of capturing the Bosnian king. The Bosnians were 
unimpressed and replaced him by another, also a staunch 
Bogomil. Later Sigismund sent back the first king, whose 
claim to the throne was naturally resented by the second. The 
wretched country was again precipitated into civil war. 

This was in 1415. In 1389 the battle of Kossovo had been 
lost by the Christian Serbs. For twenty-six years the Turks 
had been digging themselves in over the border of Bosnia. 
They had already some foothold in the southern part of the 
kingdom. A child could have seen what was bound to happen. 
The Turks offered the Bogomils military protection, secure pos- 
session of their lands, and full liberty to practise their religion 
provided they counted themselves as Moslems and not as 
Christians, and did not attack the forces of the Ottoman Empire. 
The Bogomils, having been named in a Papal Bull with the 
Turks as conunon enemies of Christendom and having suffered 
invasion in consequence, naturally accepted the offer. Had it 
not been for the intolerance of the Papacy we would not have had 
Turkey in Europe for five hundred years. Fifty years later, the 
folly had been consummated. Bosnia was wholly Turkish, and 
the Turks had passed on towards Hungary and Central Europe. 
It is worth while noting that a band of Bogomils who had been 
driven out of Bosnia by a temporary Catholic king, while their 
companions had been sent in chains to Rome to be " benig- 
nantly converted ”, valiantly defended the Herzegovinian moun- 
tains against the Turks for another twenty years. 

But the story does not stop there. It was only then that a 
certain peculiar and awful characteristic of human nature 
showed itself, as it has since shown itself on one other occasion 
in history. There is a kind of human being, terrifying above 
all others, who resists by yielding. Let it be supposed that it is 
a woman. A man is pleased by her, he makes advances to her, 



he finds that no woman was ever more compliant. He marvels 
at the way she allows him to take possession of her and perhaps 
despises her for it. Then suddenly he finds that his whole life 
has been conditioned to her, that he has become bodily de< 
pendent on her, that he has acquired the habit of living in a 
house with her, that food is not food unless he eats it with her. 

It is at this point that he suddenly realises that he has not 
conquered her mind, and that he is not sure if she loves him, or 
even likes him, or even considers him of great moment. Then 
it occurs to him as a possibility that she failed to resist him in 
the first place because simply nothing he could do seemed of the 
slightest importance. He may even suspect that she let him 
come into her life because she hated him, and wanted him to 
expose himself before her so that she could despise him for his 
weakness. This, since man is a hating rather than a loving 
animal, may not impossibly be the truth of the situation. There 
will be an agonising period when he attempts to find out the 
truth. But that he will not be able to do, for it is the essence 
of this woman’s character not to uncover her face. He will 
therefore have to withdraw from the frozen waste in which he 
finds himself, where there is neither heat nor light nor food nor 
shelter, but only the fear of an unknown enemy, and he will 
have to endure the pain of living alone till he can love someone 
else ; or he will have to translate himself into another person, 
who will be accepted by her, a process that means falsification 
of the soul. Whichever step he takes, the woman will grow 
stronger and more serene, though not so strong and serene as 
she will if he tries the third course of attempting to coerce her. 

Twice the Slavs have played the part of this woman in the 
history of Europe. Once, on the simpler occasion, when the 
Russians let Napoleon into the core of their country, where he 
found himself among snow and ashes, his destiny dead. The 
second time it happened here in Sarajevo. The heretic Bosnian 
nobles surrendered their country to the Turks in exchange for 
freedom to keep their religion and their lands, but they were 
aware that these people were their enemies. There could be no 
two races more antipathetic than the Slavs, with their infinite 
capacity for enquiry and speculation, and the Turks, who had no 
word in their language to express the idea of being interested 
in anything, and who were therefore content in abandonment to 
the tropism of a militarist system. This antipathy grew stronger 

3o8 black lamb and GREY FALCON 

as the Turks began to apply to Bosnia the same severe methods 
of raising revenue with which they drained all their conquered 
territories, and the same S3rstem of recruiting. For some time 
after the conquest they began to draw from Bosnia, as from 
Serbia and Bulgaria and Macedonia, the pick of all the Slav 
boys, to act as Janissaries, as the Pretorian Guard of the Otto- 
man Empire. It was the fate of these boys to be brought up 
ignorant of the names of their families or their birth-places, 
to be denied later the right to marry or own property, to be 
nothing but instruments of warfare for the Sultan’s use, as 
inhuman as lances or bombs. 

To these exactions the Bosnians submitted. They could do 
nothing else. But the two Bosnian nobles who had been the 
first to submit to the Turks came to this mining town and 
founded a city which was called Bosna Sarai, from the fortress, 
the Sarai, on the heights above it. Here they lived in a pride 
undiminished by conquest, though adapted to it. It must be 
remembered that these people would not see themselves as 
renegades in any shocking sense. The followers of a heresy 
itself strongly Oriental in tone would not feel that they were 
abandoning Christianity in practising their worship under 
Moslem protection, since Mohammed acknowledged the sanctity 
of Christ, and Moslems had no objection to worshipping in 
Christian churches. To this day in Sarajevo Moslems make a 
special point of attending the Church of St. Anthony of Padua 
every Tuesday evening. The Bosnian Moslems felt that they 
had won their independence by a concession no greater than they 
would have made had they submitted to the Roman Catholic 
Church. So they sat down in their new town, firm in self- 
respect, and profited by the expanding wealth of their con- 

It was then, no doubt, that the town acquired its air of 
pleasure, for among the Turks at that time voluptuousness 
knew its splendid holiday. An insight into what its wealth 
came to be is given us by a catastrophe. When Kara Mustapha, 
the Vizier who tormented Dubrovnik, was beaten outside Vienna 
his camp dazzled Europe with a vision of luxury such as it 
had never seen, such as perhaps it has never known since. 
His stores were immense ; he travelled with twenty thousand 
head apiece of buffaloes, oxen, camels and mules, a flock of 
ten thousand sheep, and a countiy’s crop of com and sugar and 



coffee and honey and fat. His camp was the girth of Warsaw, 
wrote John Sobieski to his wife, and not imaginable by humble 
Poles. The Vizier’s tent — this I know, for I once saw it in 
Vienna — was a masterpiece of delicate embroidery in many 
colours. There were also bathrooms flowing with scented 
waters, gardens with fountains, superb beds, glittering lamps 
and chandeliers and priceless carpets, and a menagerie contain- 
ing all manner 'of birds and beasts and fishes. Before Kara 
Mustapha fled he decapitated two of his possessions which he 
thought so beautiful he could not bear the Christian dogs to 
enjoy them. One was a specially beautiful wife, the other was 
an ostrich. The scent of that world, luxurious and inclusive, 
still hangs about the mosques and latticed windows and walled 
gardens of Sarajevo.. 

But however sensuous that population might be it was never 
supine. Sarajevo, as the seat of the new Moslem nobility, was 
made the headquarters of the Bosnian Janissaries. These 
Janissaries, however, singularly failed to carry out the intention 
of their founders. Their education proved unable to make them 
forget they were Slavs. They insisted on speaking Serbian, they 
made no effort to conceal a racial patriotism, and what was more 
they insisted on taking wives and acquiring property. Far from 
inhumanly representing the Ottoman power in opposition to the 
Bosnian nobles, they were their friends and allies. The Porte 
found itself unable to alter this state of affairs, because the 
Janissaries of Constantinople, who were also Slavs, had a lively 
liking for them and could not be trusted to act against them. 
It had no other resources, for it had exterminated the leaders of 
the Bosnian Christians and in any case could hardly raise them 
up to fight for their oppressors. 

Hence there grew up, well within the frontiers of the Otto- 
man Empire, a Free City, in which the Slavs lived as they liked, 
according to a constitution they based on Slav law and custom, 
and defied all interference. It even passed a law by which the 
Pasha of Bosnia was forbidden to stay more than a night at a 
time within the city walls. For that one night he was treated as 
an honoured guest, but the next morning he found himself 
escorted to the city gates. It was out of the question that the 
Ottoman Empire should ever make Sarajevo its seat of govern- 
ment. That had to be the smaller town of Travnik, fifty miles 
away, and even there the Pasha was not his own master. If 



the Janissaries of Sarajevo complained of him to the Sublime 
Porte, he was removed. Fantastically, the only right that the 
Porte insisted on maintaining to prove its power was the appoint- 
ment of two officials to see that justice was done in disputes 
between Christians and Moslems ; and even then the Commune 
of Sarajevo could dismiss them once they were appointed. Often 
the sultans and viziers must have wondered, “ But when did 
we conquer these people ? Alas, how can we have thought we 
had conquered these people ? What would we do not to have 
conquered these people ? ’’ 

Things went very well with this mutinous city for centuries. 
Its independence enabled it to withstand the shock of the blows 
inflicted on the Turks at Vienna and Belgrade, which meant 
that they must abandon their intention of dominating Europe. 
There came a bad day at the end of the seventeenth century, 
when Prince Eugene of Savoy rode down from Hungary with 
his cavalry and looked down on the city from a foothill at the 
end of the valley. Then the Slavs proved their unity in space 
and time, and the Bosnians rehearsed the trick that the Russians 
were later to play on Napoleon. The town. Prince Eugene was 
told, had been abandoned. It lay there, empty, to be taken. 
Prince Eugene grew thoughtful and advanced no further, 
though he had been eager to see this outpost of the East, whose 
atmosphere must have been pleasing to his own type of voluptu- 
ousness. He turned round and went back to the Danube at 
the head of a vast column of Christian refugees whom he took 
to Austrian territory. Perhaps that retreat made the difference 
between the fates of Prince Eugene and Napoleon. 

After that a century passed and left Sarajevo much as it 
was, plump in insubordination. Then came the great reforming 
sultans, Selim 111 and Mahmud II, who saw that they must 
rebuild their house if it were not to tumble about their ears. 
They resolved to reorganise the Janissaries, and, when that 
proved impossible, to disband them. These were by now a com- 
pletely lawless body exercising supreme authority over all law- 
fijlly constituted administrative units. Also the sultans resolved 
to reform the land and taxation system which made hungry slaves 
of the peasants. Nothing would have been less pleasing to 
Sarajevo. The Janissaries and the Bosnian nobility had worked 
together to maintain unaltered the feudal system which had 
perished in nearly all other parts of Europe, and the proposal 



to remove the disabilities of the Christian peasants reawakened 
a historic feud. The Bosnian Moslem city-dwelling nobles 
hated these Christian peasants, because they were the descend- 
ants of the Catholic and Orthodox barons and their followers 
who had opened the door to the invader by their intolerance 
of Bogomilism. 

Therefore the Janissaries and the Moslem nobles fought the 
sultans. The Janissaries refused to be disbanded and when 
their brothers had been exterminated in Constantinople the 
prohibited uniform was still to be seen in Sarajevo : the blue 
pelisse, the embroidered under-coat, the huge towering turban, 
decorated when the wearer was of the higher ranks with bird- 
of-paradise plumes, the high leather boots, red and yellow and 
black according to rank. In time they had to retreat from the 
town to the fortress on the heights above it, and that too fell 
later to the troops of the central authority ; Bosnian nobles 
were beheaded, and the Pasha entered into full possession of the 
city where for four centuries he had been received on sufferance. 
But after a few months, in July 1828, the Sarajevans took their 
revenge and, aided by the citizens of a neighbouring town called 
Visok, broke in and for three days massacred their conquerors. 
Their victory was so terrible that they were left undisturbed till 
1850, and then they were defeated by a Turkish empire which 
itself was near to defeat, and was to be drummed out of Bosnia 
by peasants not thirty years later. At last the two lovers had 
destroyed each other. But they were famous lovers. This 
beautiful city speaks always of their preoccupation with one 
another, of what the Slav, not to be won by any gift, took from 
the Turk, and still was never won, of the unappeasable hunger 
with which the Turk longed throughout fhe centuries to make 
the Slav subject to him, although the Slav is never subject, not , 
even to himself. 

Sarajevo II 

We knew we should try to get some sleep before the evening, 
because Constantine was coming from Belgrade and would 
want to sit up late and talk. But we hung about too late in the 
bazaar, watching a queue of men who had lined up to have 
their fezes ironed. It is an amusing process. In a steamy 


shop two Moslems were working, each clapping a fez down on 
a fez-shaped cone heated inside like an old-fashioned flat-iron 
and then clapping down another cone on it and screwing that 
down very tight, then releasing the fez with a motherly ex- 
pression. “ What extremely tidy people the Moslems must be,” 
said my husband ; but added, “ This cannot be normal, how- 
ever. If it were there would be more shops of this sort. There 
must be some festival to-morrow. We will ask the people at 
the hotel.” But we were so tired that we forgot, and slept so 
late that Constantine had to send us up a message saying he 
had arrived and was eager to go out to dinner. 

When we came downstairs Constantine was standing in the 
hall, talking to two men, tall and dark and dignified, with the 
sallow, long-lashed dignity of Sephardim. “ I tell you I have 
friends everywhere," he said. " These are two of my friends, 
they like me very much. They are Jews from Spain, and they 
speak beautiful soft Spanish of the time of Ferdinand and 
Isabella, not the Spanish of to-day, which is hard and guttural 
as German. This is Dr. Lachan, who is a banker, and Dr. 
Marigan, who is a judge. I think they are both very good 
men, they move in a sort of ritual way along prescribed paths, 
and there is nothing ever wrong. Now they will take us to a 
cafi where we will eat a little, but it is not for the eating they 
are taking us there, it is because they have heard there is a 
girl there who sings the Bosnian songs very well, and it is not 
for nothing that there are so many mosques in Sarajevo ; this 
is truly the East, and people attach great importance to such 
things as girls who sing the Bosnian songs, even though they 
are very serious people.” 

The men greeteS us with beautiful and formal manners, 
and we went down the street to the cafe. It could be seen they 
liked Constantine half because he is a great poet, half because 
he is like a funny little dog. But at the door they began to think 
of us and wonder if they should take us to such a place. " For 
us and our wives it is nice," they said, “ but we are used to it. 
Perhaps for an English lady it will seem rather strange. There 
are sometimes dancers . . . well, there is one now.” A stout 
woman clad in sequined pink muslin trousers and brassi^e 
was standing on a platform revolving her stomach in time to 
the music of a piano and violin, and as we entered she changed 
her subject matter and began to revolve her large firm breasts 



in opposite directions. This gave an effect of hard, mechanical 
magic ; it was as if two cannon-balls were rolling away from 
each other but were for ever kept contingent by some invisible 
power of attraction. ‘‘ Your wife does not mind ? " asked the 
judge and the banker. “ 1 think not," said my husband. As 
we went down the aisle one of the cannon-balls ceased to revolve, 
though the other went on rolling quicker than ever, while the 
woman cried out my name in tones of familiarity and welcome. 
The judge and the banker showed no signs of having witnessed 
this greeting. As we sat down I felt embarrassed by their silence 
and said, in explanation, “ How extraordinary I should come 
across this woman again.” “ 1 beg your pardon 7 " said the 
judge. " How extraordinary it is,” 1 repeated, “ that I should 
come across this woman again. I met her last year in Mace- 
donia.” “ Oh, it is you that she knows ! ” exclaimed the judge 
and the banker, and I perceived that they had thought she was 
a friend of my husband’s. 

I was really very glad to see her again. When Constantine 
and I had been in Skoplje the previous Easter he had taken me 
to a night club in the Moslem quarter. That form of entertain- 
ment which we think of as peculiarly modern Western and 
profligate was actually far more at home in the ancient and 
poverty-stricken Near East. In any sizable village in Mace- 
donia I think one would find at least one cafd where a girl sang 
and there was music. In Skoplje, which has under seventy 
thousand inhabitants, there are many such, including a night 
club almost on a Trocadero scale. In the little Moslem 
cabaret we visited there was nobody more opulent than a small 
shopkeeper, but the performers numbered a male gipsy who 
sang and played the gusla, a very beautiful Serbian singer, a 
still more beautiful gipsy girl who sang and danced, and this 
danseuse du ventre, who was called Astra. When Astra came 
round and rattled the plate at our table I found she was a Salonica 
Jewess, member of another colony of refugees from Ferdinand 
and Isabella who still speak Spanish, and I asked her to come 
and see me the next day at my hotel and give me a lesson in the 
danse du ventre. 

She was with me earlier than I had expected, at ten o’clock, 
wearing a curious coat-frock, of a pattern and inexpert make 
which at once suggested she had hardly any occasion to be fully 
dressed, and that she would have liked to be a housewife in a row 


of houses all exactly alike. The lesson in the danse du ventre was 
not a success. I picked up the movement wonderfully, she said ; 
I had it perfectly, but I could not produce the right effect. 
" Voyez-vous, Madame,” she said, in the slow French she had 
pick^ up in a single term at a mission school, “ vous n’avez 
pas de quoi.” It is the only time in my life that I have been 
reproached with undue slenderness ; but I suppose Astra herself 
weighed a hundred and sixty pounds, though she carried no 
loose flesh like a fat Western woman, but was solid and elastic. 
After the lesson had failed we sat and talked. She came of 
a family of musicians. She had a sister who had married an 
Englishman employed in Salonica, and now lived in Ealing and 
had two pretty little girls, like dolls they were so pretty, Milly 
and Lily. It was terrible they were so far away. She herself was 
a widow ; her husband had been a Greek lorry driver who was 
killed in a road accident after three years of marriage. She had 
one son, a boy of ten. It was her ambition that he should go 
to a French school ; in her experience there was nothing like 
French education "pour faire libre I' esprit". In the meantime 
he was at a Yugoslavian school and doing well, because he was 
naturally a good and diligent little boy, but she wanted some- 
thing better for him. 

It was very disagreeable, her occupation. She did not state 
explicitly what it included, but we took it for granted. It was 
not so bad in Greece or Bulgaria or in the North of Yugoslavia, 
in all of which places she had often worked, but of late she had 
got jobs only in South Serbia, in night clubs where the clients 
were for the most part Turks. She clapped her hand to her 
brow and shook her head and said, " Vous ne savez pas, madame, 
k quel point les Turcs sont idiots.” Her complaint when I in- 
vestigated it, was just what it sounds. She was distressed 
because her Turkish visitors had no conversation. Her coat- 
frock fell back across her knee and showed snow-white cambric 
underclothing and flesh scrubbed clean as the cleanest cook’s 
kitchen table, and not more sensuous. She was all decency and 
good sense, and she was pronouncing sound judgment. 

The judgment was appalling. The Turks in South Serbia 
are not like the Slav Moslems of Sarajevo, they are truly Turks. 
They are Turks who were settled there after the battle of 
Kossovo, who have remained what the Ataturk would not permit 
Turks to be any longer. They are what a people must become 



if it suspends all intellectual life and concentrates on the idea 
of conquest. It knows victory, but there is a limit to possible 
victories ; what has been gained cannot be maintained, for that 
requires the use of the intellect, which has been removed. So 
there is decay, the long humiliation of decay. At one time the 
forces of Selim and Suleiman covered half a continent with the 
precise and ferocious ballet of perfect warfare, the sensuality 
of the sultans and the viziers searched for fresh refinements 
and made of their discoveries the starting points for further 
search, fountains played in courtyards and walled gardens 
where there had been till then austere barbarism. At the end 
an ageing cabaret dancer, the homely and decent vanishing 
point of voluptuousness, sits on a bed and says with dreadful 
justice : " Vous ne savez pas, madame, k quel point les Turcs 
sont idiots.” 

When Astra came to our table later she told me that she 
hoped to be in Sarajevo for some weeks longer, and that she 
was happier here than she had been in Skoplje. " Ici,” she 
pronounced, " les gens sont beaucoup plus cultives.” As soon 
as she had gone I found at my shoulder the Swabian chauffeur 
from Dubrovnik, whom we had paid off that afternoon. “ Why 
is that woman talking to you ? ” he said. He always immensely 
disconcerted me by his interventions. I was always afraid that 
if I said to him, " What business is this of yours ? " he would 
answer, in the loathsome manner of a miracle play, " 1 am 
Reason ” or “ I am Conscience ”, and that it would be true. 
So I stammered, “ I know her." " You cannot know such a 
person,” he said. “ Do you mean you have been in some cafe 
where she has performed ? ” “ Yes, yes," I said, " it was in 
Skoplje, and she is a very nice woman, she has a son of whom 
she is fond.” “ How do you know she has a son ? ” asked the 
chauffeur. “ She told me so,” I said. " You do not have to 
believe everything that such a person tells you,” said the 
chauffeur. ” But I am sure it is true,” I exclaimed hotly, " and 
I am very sorry for her.” The chauffeur gave me a glance too 
heavily veiled by respect to be respectful, and then looked at 
my husband, but sighed, as if to remind himself that he would 
find no help there. Suddenly he picked up my bag and said, 
" I came to say that I had remembered I had forgotten to take 
that grease-spot out with petrol as I had promised you, so I 
will take it outside and do it now.” He then bowed, and left 

3i6 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

me. I thought, " He is really too conscientious, this is very 
inconvenient for now I have no powder." But of course he 
would not have thought it necessary for me to have any 

But my attention was immediately diverted. A very hand- 
some young man had come up to our table in a state of extreme 
anger ; he was even angrier than any of the angry young men 
in Dalmatia. He evidently knew Constantine and the judge 
and the banker, but he did not give them any formal greeting. 
Though his hair was bronze and his eyes crackled with blueness, 
and he might have been brother to the two Moslems we had 
seen talking politics in the park that afternoon, he cried out, 
" What about the accursed Turks ? ” The judge and the 
banker made no reply, but Constantine said, “ Well, it was not 
I who made them.” The young man insisted, “ But you serve 
our precious Government, don’t you ? ” " Yes,” said Con- 

stantine, " for the sake of my country, and perhaps a little for 
the sake of my soul, I have given up the deep peace of being 
in opposition.” “ Then perhaps you can explain why your 
Belgrade gangster politicians have devised this method of in- 
sulting us Bosnians,” said the young man. " We are used," 
he said, stretching his arms wide and shouting, " to their 
iniquities. We have seen them insulting our brothers the 
Croats, we have seen them spitting in the faces of all those 
who love liberty. But usually there is some sense in what they 
do, they either put money in their pockets or they consolidate 
their tyranny. But this crazy burlesque can bring them no 
profit. It can be done for no purpose but to wound the pride 
of us Bosnians. Will you be polite enough to explain a little 
why your horde of thugs and thieves have formed this curious 
intention of paying this unprovoked insult to a people whose 
part it should be to insult rather than be insulted ? ” 

The judge leaned over to me and whispered, " It is all right, 
Madame, they are just talking a little about politics.” “ But 
what has the Government done to insult Bosnia ? ” I asked. 
“ It has arranged,” said the banker, " that the Turkish Prime 
Minister and Minister of War, who are in Belgrade discussing 
our military alliance with them, are to come here to-morrow 
to be received by the Moslem population.” “ Ah,” said my 
husband, " that accounts for all the fezes being ironed. Well, 
do many people take the visit like this young man ? ” “ No,” 



said the banker, " he is a very extreme young man.” “ I would 
not say so,” said the judge sadly. 

At that moment the young man smashed his fist down on 
the table and cried into Constantine's face, “ Judas Iscariot ! 
Judas Iscariot ! ” " No,” said poor Constantine to his retreating 
back, ” I am not Judas Iscariot. I have indeed never been quite 
sure which of the disciples I do resemble, but it is a very sweet 
little one, the most mignon of them all.” He applied himself to 
the business of eating a line of little pieces of strongly seasoned 
meat that had been broiled on a skewer ; and when he set it 
down wistfulness was wet in his round black eyes. ” All the 
same 1 do not like it, what that young man said. It was not 
agreeable. Dear God, I wish the young would be more 
agreeable to my generation, for we suffered very much in the 
war, and' if it were not for us they would still be slaves under 
the Austrians.” 

Cautiously the banker said, " Do you think it is really wise, 
this visit ? ” Constantine answered wearily, " I think it is 
wise, for our Prime Minister, Mr. Stoyadinovitch, does not do 
foolish things.” “ But why is it objected to at all ? ” said my 
husband. ” That even I understand a little,” said Constantine, 
” for the Turks were our oppressors and we drove them out, 
so that we Christians should be free. And now the heads of the 
Turkish state are coming by the consent of our Christian state 
to see the Moslems who upheld the oppressors. I see that it 
must seem a little odd.” “ But how is it possible,” said my 
husband, ” that there should be so much feeling against the 
Turks when nobody who is not very old can possibly have had 
any personal experience of their oppressions ? ” 

The three men looked at my husband as if he were talking 
great nonsense. “ Well,” said my husband, “ were not the 
Turks booted out of here in 1878?” “Ah, no, no!” ex- 
claimed the three men. " You do not understand,” said Con- 
stantine ; “ the Turkish Empire went from here in 1878, but 
the Slav Moslems remained, and when Austria took control it 
was still their holiday. For they were the favourites of the 
Austrians, far above the Christians, far above the Serbs or the 
Croats.” " But why was that ? " asked my husband. “ It was 
because of the principle, divide et impera," said the banker. 
It was odd to hear the phrase from the lips of one of its victims. 
“ Look, there were fifty or sixty thousand people in the town,” 

3i8 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

said the banker ; “ there were us, the Jews, who are of two 
kinds, the Sephardim, from Spain and Portugal, and the others, 
the Ashkenazi, who are from Central Europe and the East, and 
that is a division. Then there were the Christian Slavs, who 
are Croats and Serbs, and that is a division. But lest we 
should forget our differences, they raised up the Moslems, who 
were a third of the population, to be their allies against the 
Christians and the Jews." 

Their faces darkening with the particular sullenness of 
rebels, they spoke of their youth, shadowed by the double 
tyranny of Austria and the Moslems. To men of their position, 
for both came from wealthy and influential families, that 
t3rranny had been considerably mitigated. It had fallen with 
a far heavier hand on the peasants and the inhabitants of the 
poorer towns, and there it meant a great deal of imprisonment 
and flogging, and occasional executions. But to these people 
there had been a constant nagging provocation and a sense of 
insult. The Moslems were given the finest schools and colleges, 
the best posts in the administration were reserved for them, they 
were invited to all official functions and treated as honoured 
guests, the railway trains were held up at their hours of prayer. 
The Turkish land system, which grossly favoured the Moslems 
at the expense of the Christians, was carefully preserved intact 
by his Catholic Majesty the Emperor Franz Josef. And it was a 
special source of bitterness that the Austrians had forced their 
way into Bosnia after the Slavs had driven out the Turks, on 
the pretext that they must establish a garrison force to protect 
the Christians there in case the Turks came back. That they 
should then- humiliate the Christians at the hand of those 
Moslems who had stayed behind seemed to these men an in- 
flaming piece of hypocrisy which could never be forgotten or 

They evidently felt this deeply and sincerely, although they 
themselves were Jewish. The .situation was evidently one of 
great complexity. That was apparent when they likened the 
Turks to dogs and swine, and spoke the words with more than 
Western loathing, as the Turks would have done. “ When I 
went to Berlin to study for my degree,” said the banker, " I 
used to feel ashamed because the Germans took me as an equal, 
and here in my house I was treated as an inferior to men with 
fezes on their heads, to Orientals.” In that statement too many 



strands were twisted. Later my husband asked, " But are the 
Moslems a sufficiently important and active group for it to 
matter whether they are encouraged or not ? " The lawyer and 
the banker answered together," Oh, certainly,” and Constan- 
tine explained, “ Yes, they are very, very clever politicians, 
much cleverer than we are, for Islam taught them something, 
let us say it taught them not to run about letting off guns just 
because one of them had a birthday. Our Government has 
always to conciliate the Moslems. In the present Cabinet Mr. 
Spaho is the Minister of Transport, and he is a Moslem from this 
town." " A most excellent man,” agreed the judge and banker, 
beaming. All that they had spoken of for so long in such a 
steady flow of hatred was forgotten in a glow of local patriotism. 

At last it was time to go. " No, your Mr. Stoyadinovitch 
has not done well,” said the banker finally. “ It is not that we 
do not like the Moslems. Since the war all things have changed, 
and we are on excellent terms. But it is not nice when they are 
picked out by the Government and allowed to receive a cere- 
monial visit from the representative of the power that crushed 
us and ground us down into the mud.” We rose, and Astra 
in her sequins and pink muslin bounced from the platform like 
a great sorbo-ball to say good-bye. I wanted to give her a 
present, but remembered that the chauffeur had taken my bag 
away to clean it, so I told her to come and see me at the hotel 
next day. As we went out the Swabian chauffeur suddenly 
reappeared, rising from a table which was concealed by the 
bushes and creepers which were set about to give the cabaret 
the appearance of an open-air beer-garden. He handed back 
my bag with a triumphant smile, and I perceived that he had 
hidden himself for this very reason, that I should not be able 
to find him and get my money, if I felt a charitable impulse 
towards my unsuitable friend. 

" And please note,” he said, his eyes passing uneasily from 
my husband to me and then back again, deeply distressed by 
our lack of sense, " it would be a good thing to stay indoors 
to-morrow morning, for the Turkish Prime Minister and War 
Minister are coming to visit the Moslems and there might be a 
disturbance. At any rate, it is not for you, there will be great 
crowds.” He spoke with authority out of the mass of his ideal 
world, which was almost as solid as if it were real because it had 
been conceived by his solid mind : a world in which people 


with money were also reasonable people, who did not give alms 
to the unworthy and stayed indoors when it was not so safe 
outdoors. And his blindish-looking eyes begged us to remem- 
ber that we were English and therefore to refrain from acting 
like these Slavs. 

Sarigevo III 

I woke only once from my sleep, and heard the muezzins 
crying out to the darkness from the hundred minarets of the 
city that there is but one God and Mohammed his prophet. 
It is a cry that holds an ultimate sadness, like the hooting of 
owls and the barking of foxes in night-time. The muezzins 
are making that plain statement of their cosmogony, and the 
owls and the foxes are obeying the simplest need for expression ; 
yet their cries, which they intended to mean so little, prove 
more conclusively than any argument that life is an occasion 
which justifies the hugest expenditure of pity. I had nearly 
fallen asleep again when my husband said out of his dreams, 
“ Strange, strange.” “ What is strange ? ” I said. “ That 
Jewish banker," he replied, “ he said so proudly that when he 
was a student in Berlin he felt ashamed because he was treated 
there as an equal when here he was treated as inferior to the 
Moslems. I wonder what he feels about Germany now.” 

In the morning we were not late, but Constantine was down 
before us, breakfasting in the cafe. One of the reasons why 
people of the Nordic type dislike Constantine is that he is able 
to do things out of sheer vitality for which they require moral 
stimulus. His good red blood can fetch him out of bed without 
a moment of sombre resolution, his vigorous pulse keeps him 
going without resort to perseverance. The writings of the early 
Christian fathers show that few things irritated them like a 
pagan who was in full possession of the virtues. But though 
he was vigorous this morning he was not gay. " Look at all 
the flags,” he said, “ it is a great day for Sarajevo. See how I 
show you all.” But he spoke glumly. 

I suspected that he was secretly of his friends’ mind about 
the day’s doings ; and indeed it was not exhilarating to look 
out of the caf6 windows and see a stream of passing people, 
and none of the men without fezes, all of the women veiled. 
I do not mind there being such men and women, but one sees 



them with a different eye when they are in a majority and could 
put at a disadvantage all those not of their kind. “ I can under- 
stand that such a ceremony as this can revive all sorts of appre- 
hensions,” I said tactlessly. “ We had better go," said Con- 
stantine, ignoring my remark. “ The party from Belgrade are 
not coming to the railway station, they stop the railway train 
at a special halt in the middle of the boulevards, near the 
museum, and it is quite a way from here.” 

For part of the way we took a cab, and then we had to get 
out and walk. Because Constantine had his Government pass 
and we were to be present at the reception at the station, we 
were allowed to go down the middle of the streets, which were 
entirely lined with veiled women and men wearing fezes. Only 
a few Christians were to be seen here and there. “ There seem 
to be a great many Moslems,” I said, after the first two or three 
hundred yards. The crowd was close-packed and unified by 
a common aspect. The faces of the men were flattened, almost 
plastered by an expression of dogged adherence to some 
standard ; they were all turned upwards to one hope. The 
women were as expressive in their waiting, though their faces 
were hidden. A light rain was falling on their silk and cotton 
overalls, but they did not move, and only some of them put up 
umbrellas, though most of them were carrying them. It was as 
if they thought of themselves already as participants in a sacred 
rite. Some of the spectators were arranged in processional 
order and held small, amateurish, neatly inscribed banners, 
some of them in Turkish script; and a great many of them 
carried Yugoslavian flags, very tidily, not waving them but 
letting them droop. There were many children, all standing 
straight and good under the rain. I looked at my watch, and I 
saw that we had been walking between these crowds for ten 
minutes. There are thirty thousand Moslems in Sarajevo, and 
I think most of them were there. And they were rapt, hal- 
lucinated, intoxicated with an old loyalty, and doubtless ready 
to know the intoxication of an old hatred. 

We came to the halt at the right moment, as the train slid 
in and stopped. There was a little cheering, and the flags were 
waved, but it is not much fun cheering somebody inside the 
tin box of a railway carriage. The crowd waited to make sure. 
The Moslem mayor of Sarajevo and his party went forward 
and greeted the tall and jolly Mr. Spaho, the Minister of 


Transport, and the Yugoslavian Minister of War, General 
Merits, a giant who wore his strength packed round him in solid 
masses like a bull. He looked as Goering would like to look. 
There were faint, polite cheers for them ; but the great cheers 
the crowd had had in its hearts for days were never g^ven. 
For Mr. Spaho and the General were followed, so far as the 
expectations of the crowd were concerned, by nobody. The 
two little men in bowlers and trim suits, very dapper and well- 
shaven, might have been Frenchmen darkened in the Colonial 
service. It took some time for the crowd to realise that they 
were in fact Ismet Ineunue, the Turkish Prime Minister, and 
Kazim Ozalip, his War Minister. 

Even after the recognition had been established the cheers 
were not given. No great degree of disguise concealed the 
disfavour with which these two men in bowler hats looked on 
the thousands they saw before them, all wearing the fez and 
veil which their leader the Ataturk made it a crime to wear in 
Turkey. Their faces were blank yet not unexpressive. So 
might Englishmen look if, in some corner of the Empire, they 
had to meet as brothers the inhabitants of a colony that had 
been miraculously preserved from the action of time and had 
therefore kept to their woad. 

The Moslem mayor read them an address of welcome, of 
which, naturally, they did not understand one word. This was 
bound in any case to be a difficult love-affair to conduct, for they 
knew no Serbian and the Sarajevans knew no Turkish. They 
had to wait until General Marits had translated it into French ; 
while they were waiting I saw one of them fix his eye on a 
distant building, wince, and look in the opposite direction. 
Some past-loving soul had delved in the attics and found the 
green flag with the crescent, the flag of the old Ottoman Empire, 
which these men and their leader regarded as the badge of a. 
plague that had been like to destroy their people. The General’s 
translation over, they responded in French better than his, only 
a little sweeter and more birdlike than the French of France, and 
stood still, their eyes set on the nearest roof, high enough to save 
them the sight of this monstrous retrogade profusion of fezes and 
veils, of red pates and black muzzles, while the General put back 
into Serbian their all too reasonable remarks. They had told 
the Moslems of Sarajevo, it seemed, that they felt the utmost 
enthusiasm for the Yugoslavian idea, and had pointed out 

fiOSMU jij 

that if the South Slavs did not form a unified state the will 
of the great powers could sweep over the Balkan Peninsula as 
it chose. They had said not one word of the ancient tie that 
linked the Bosnian Moslems to the Turks, nor had they made 
any reference to Islam. 

There were civil obeisances, and the two men got into an 
automobile and drove towards the town. The people did not 
cheer them. Only those within sight of the railway platform 
were aware that they were the Turkish Ministers, and even 
among those were many who could not believe their eyes, who 
thought that there must have been some breakdown of the 
arrangements. A little procession of people holding banners 
that had been ranged behind the crowd at this point wrangled 
among itself as to whether it should start, delayed too long, and 
finally tried to force its way into the roadway too late. By that 
time the crowd had left the pavements and was walking under 
the drizzle back to the city, slowly and silently, as those who 
have been sent empty away. 

We had seen the end of a story that had taken five hundred 
years to tell. We had seen the final collapse of the old Ottoman 
Empire. Under our eyes it had heeled over and fallen to the 
ground like a lay figure slipping off a chair. But that tragedy 
was already accomplished. The Ottoman Empire had ceased to 
suffer long ago. There was a more poignant grief before us. 
Suppose that such an unconquerable woman as may be com- 
pared to the Slav in Bosnia was at last conquered by time, and 
sent for help to her old lover, and that there answered the call 
a man bearing her lover’s name who was, however, not her 
lover but his son, and looked on her with cold eyes, seeing 
her only as the occasion of a shameful passage in his family 
history ; none of us would be able to withhold our pity. 

Sarajevo IV 

“ I am so glad that this is a bad spring," I said, " for other 
wise I should never have seen snow on the roof of a mosque, 
and there is something delicious about that incongruity.” “ But 
it is killing all the plum blossom you like so much to see,” said 
Constantine, " and that is a terrible thing, for in Bosnia and 
Serbia we live a little by our timber and our mines, but mostly 


by our pigs and our plums. But for you I am glad of the bad 
weather, for if it had been better you would have wanted to be 
out on the hills all the time, and as it is you have got to know 
my friends. Will you not agree that life in this town is specially 
agreeable ? ’’ “ Yes," said my husband, “ it is all that I hoped 
for in Istanbul, but never found, partly because I was a stranger, 
and partly because they are reformist and are trying for excellent 
motives to uproot their own charm." “ I have liked it all," I 
said, “ except that afternoon when the Turkish Ministers were 
here and I went to see the mosque in the bazaar. Then I felt 
as if I had insisted on being present while a total stranger had 
a tooth out. But that was my fault.” 

1 had thoughtlessly chosen to see the mosque that afternoon, 
and had found the whole courtyard full of Moslems who were 
waiting there because a rumour had spread that the Turkish 
Ministers were going to visit it. On their faces lay that 
plastered, flattened look of loyalty to a cause which I had 
noticed in the crowd at the railway station that morning. But 
it was mingled now with that stoical obstinacy a child shows 
when it insists on repeating a disappointing experience, so that 
it can have no doubt that it really happened. It seemed indecent 
for a Christian to intrude on them at such a moment, and for a 
woman too, since the whole Moslem theory of the relationship 
of the sexes falls to pieces once any man has failed in a worldly 
matter. I had even hesitated to admire the mellow tiles and 
fretted arches of the fa9ade or to go into the interior, so like a 
light and spacious gymnasium for the soul, to see the carpets 
presented by the pious of three centuries; what have been the 
recreations of the warrior must seem a shame to him when his 
weapons have been taken away. 

But this was the one time when staying in Sarajevo was not 
purely agreeable. The visit was, indeed, like being gently em- 
braced by a city, for all classes had borrowed from the Moslem 
his technique for making life as delightful as might be. Our 
Jewish friends were strict in their faith but their lives were as 
relaxed, as obstinately oriented towards the agreeable as Moham- 
med would have had his children in time of peace. We went up 
to visit the banker in his large modern offices, which indeed 
almost amounted to a sky-scraper, and his welcome was sweet 
without reserve, and this was not due to mere facility, for he was 
a very wise man, sometimes almost tongue-tied with the burden 



of his wisdom, as the old Jewish sages must have been. It was 
only that till the contrary evidence was produced he preferred 
to think us as good as any friends he had. He was no fool, he 
would not reject that evidence if it came ; but it had not come. 

There were brought in, as we sat, cups of a sweet herbal 
infusion, as distinct from all other beverages as tea or coffee. 
We exclaimed in delight, and he told us, " It is a Turkish drink 
that we all give to our visitors in our offices in Sarajevo. It is 
supposed to be an aphrodisiac.** He was amused, but without 
a snigger, at the custom he followed. “Think of it,” he said. 
" I told that to a German engineer who was here last month, 
and he went out and bought two kilos of it. An extraordinary 
people.” He went on to speak of his city, which he saw with 
the eye of a true lover, as astonished by its beauty as any stranger. 
That we should see it well he had arranged for two young women 
relatives of his to take us round the sights, and he produced 
them forthwith. They were entrancing. For theme they had 
the free, positive, creative attractiveness of the Slav ; their style 
had been perfected in the harem. They had husbands and 
loved them, the banker was no more than kin and a friend, and 
my husband himself would admit that they felt for him only as 
the courtier speaks it in ylr You Like It,” Hereafter in another 
and a better world than this I should desire more love and 
knowledge of you But though they kept well within the 
framework of fastidious manners, they reminded the banker and 
my husband that it must have been very pleasant to keep a 
covey of darlings in silks and brocades behind latticed windows, 
who would laugh and scuttle away, though only to an inner 
chamber where they could be found again after a second’s 
search, and sing and touch the strings of the gusla and mock 
the male and be overawed by him, and mock again, in an un- 
ending, uncriticised process of delight. 

I record a wonder. The work of the bank was well done. 
That, with my cold inner eye that trusts nothing, least of all 
my own likings, I checked later. The banker was a man of 
exceptional ability and integrity and he worked hard according 
to the severest Western standards. But he appeared to keep 
his appointments with life as well as, and even during, his 
business engagements. Several times we went out with the 
two young women, and we always went back to the office and 
found the hot herbal tea, and coffee served with little squares 

VOL. 1 Y 

3z6 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

of Turkish delight on toothpicks, and' much laughter, and a 
sense of luxurious toys. Once we went in and found half a 
dozen pictures of Sarajevo, bought by the banker out of his 
infatuation with the city, stacked on the big sofa and against 
the walls, and it was as if the caravans had come in from the 
North with a freight of Frankish art. The two women ran 
about from one to another of these novelties, they took sides, 
they became partisans of this picture and intrigued against 
that. There was an inherent fickleness in their admiration. 
They would tire of the familiar, but no doubt it is more im- 
portant for the artist to have the new encouraged. 

“ 'What do you think of them ? ” the banker asked me. I 
wished he had not. They were the work of a Jewish refugee 
from Berlin, and though his perception was delicate and his 
brush subtle, each canvas showed him the child of that spirit 
which had destroyed him. There was the passion for the thick 
black line, the Puritan belief that if one pays out strength when 
making an artistic effort one will create a strong work of art. 
He had put a cast-iron outline to the tree on his canvas, and 
because it took vigour to make such an outline, and because 
cast-iron is an unyielding substance, he believed that the result 
was virile painting, even though his perception of the tree’s 
form had been infantile in its feebleness. It is the same heresy 
that expresses itself in the decree that had driven him into exile. 
Because it is a vigorous act to throw the Jews out of Germany 
and because it causes pain and disorder, it is taken as a measure 
of virile statescraft, although its relevance to the troubles of the 
country could be imagined only by an imbecile. 

Something of this I said, and the banker motioned my 
husband and myself to step with him to the window, leaving 
the two women to bicker like birds over the pictures. With the 
grave smile, which could not possibly become laughter, of a 
sage confessing his own folly, he said, " I have remembered 
again and again a foolish thing I said when we first met. I 
told you that when I went to Berlin as a student I rejoiced as 
a Jew at being treated as an equal, while I was treated as an 
inferior here. That must have amused you. It was a piece of 
naivet*£ like a man boasting of his friendship with one who has 
'spared no pains to show him that he considers him a fool, a 
bore, an oaf." He looked out for a moment on the mosques, on 
the domes of the old caravanserai among the tiled roofs of the 



bazaar, on the poplars standing over the city like the golden 
ghosts of giant Janissaries. “ But it is puzzling, you know, not 
to be able to look to Germany as one’s second home, when it 
has been that to one all one’s life long. But one can come home 
to one’s hearth, and I am fortunate that Sarajevo is mine.” 

He went back and stood before the pictures, the young 
women each taking an arm, one fluting that he must hang the 
picture of the little Orthodox church over his desk, the other 
screaming that he must throw it away, he must bum it, he must 
give it to one-eyed Marko the scavenger. I thought he was 
promising himself too little. In this office there lingered some- 
thing of the best of Turkish life ; and in his integrity, in his 
dismissal of the little, in the seriousness which he brought to the 
interpretation of his experience, there was preserved the best 
of what a German philosophical training could do for a man 
of affairs. It seemed to me exquisitely appropriate that the 
vulgar should call the Jews old-clothes men. Since it is the 
peculiar madness of us other races to make ourselves magnifi- 
cent clothes and then run wild and throw them away and daub 
ourselves with mud, it is well that there should be some old- 
clothes men about. 

These Jews of Sarajevo are indeed an amazing community) 
I could bring forward as evidence the Bulbul and her mate, 
the two human beings who more than any others that I have 
ever met have the right arrangement and comforting signifi- 
cance of a work of art. They were not only husband and wife, 
they were kin ; and this common blood had its own richness and 
its own discipline, for they came of a family that was con- 
sidered among Orthodox Jews as Orthodox Jews are con- 
sidered by Liberal Jews, as the practitioners of an impossibly 
exacting rule. “ His father,” said Constantine of the Bulbul’s 
mate, who was named Selim, " was the most hieratic Jew that 
can ever be. All to him from the rising to the setting of the sun 
was a ritual, and he was very dominant, he made it so for all the 
world. I have seen it happen that when Selim was swimming 
in the sea at Dubrovnik, and he saw his father standing on the 
beach, and immediately he began to swim in a very hieratic 
manner, putting his hands out so and so, very slowly, and 
lifting his head out of the water and looking very gravely down 
his nose.” 

This was credible, for Selim’s dignity was magnificent but 


not pompous, as if it were an inherited garment and its previous 
weairers had taken the stiffness out of it, He was a very tall 
man with broad shoulders, broad even for a man of his height. 
His build suggested the stylised immensity of a god sculpted 
by a primitive people, and his face also had the quality of 
sculpture ; though his wit and imagination made it mobile, it 
was at once the tables of the law and the force that shattered 
them. He had an impressive habit, as we discovered the first 
night we went out to dinner with him and his wife, of stopping 
suddenly as he walked along the street when he had thought 
of something important and of staying quite still as he said it. 
The spot where he halted became Mount Sinai, and in his 
leisurely and massive authority could be seen the Moses whom 
Michelangelo had divined but could not, being a Gentile and 
therefore of divided and contending will, fully create in the 
strength of his lawfulness. 

But the fascination of himself and his wife lay initially in 
their voices. There is a special music lingering about the tongues 
of many of these Spanish Jews, but no one else gave it such 
special performance. Selim had constrained his gift a little out 
of deference to the Western tenet that a man should not be more 
beautiful than can be helped and that a certain decent drabness 
should be the character of all he does, but from his wife’s lips 
that music came in such animal purity that we called her the 
Bulbul, which is the Persian word for nightingale. Voices like 
these were the product of an existence built by putting pleasure 
to pleasure, as houses are built by putting brick to brick.. A 
human being could not speak so unless he or she loved many 
other sounds — the wind’s progress among trees or the subtler 
passage it makes through grasses ; note lay note given out by 
a musical instrument, each note for its own colour ; the gurgle 
of wine pouring from a bottle or water trickling through a 
marble conduit in a garden — all sorts of sounds that many 
Westerners do not even hear, so corrupted are they by the 
tyranny of the intellect, which makes them inattentive to any 
message to the ear which is without an argument. Listening 
to her, one might believe humanity to be in its first unspoiled 
morning hour. Yet she was accomplished, she used her music 
with skill, and she was wise, her music was played for a good 
end. She built for grave and innocent purposes on a technique 
of ingenuity which had been developed in the harem. 



The Bulbul was not as Western women. In her beauty sh$ 
resembled the Persian ladies of the miniatures, whose lustre I 
had till then thought an artistic convention but could now 
recognise in her great shining eyes, her wet red lips, her black 
hair with its white reflections, her dazzling skin. This bright- 
ness was like a hard transparent veil varnished on her, wholly 
protective. Even if someone had touched her, it would not 
have been she who was touched. Within this protection, she 
was liquid with generosity. She was continually anxious to 
give pleasure to her friends, even were they so new and untried 
as ourselves. If we were in a caf6 and a man passed with a 
tray of Turkish sweetmeats, her face became tragical till she 
was sure that she could call him back and give us the chance of 
tasting them. If we were driving down a street and she saw 
the first lilies of the valley in a flower shop, she would call on 
the driver to stop that she might buy us some, with an im- 
perativeness found more usually in selfishness than in altruism. 
When she had brought us to the cafe where a famous gipsy 
musician was singing, she relaxed like a mother who has 
succeeded in obtaining for her children something she knows 
they should have. The seasons irked her by the limitations 
they placed on her generosity : since it was not mid-winter she 
could not take us up to the villages above Sarajevo for ski-ing, 
and since it was not midsummer she could not open her country 
house for us. Had one been cruel enough to point out to her 
that one would have been happier with a million pounds, and 
that she was not in a position to supply it, she would for a 
moment or two really have suffered, and even when she realised 
that she had been teased her good sense would not have been 
able to prevent her from feeling a slight distress. 

Yet there was nothing lax about this woman. Though she 
lived for pleasure and the dissemination of it, she shone with a 
chastity as absolute as that radiated by any woman who detested 
pleasure. She had accepted a mystery. She had realised that 
to make a Held where generosity can fulfil its nature absolutely, 
without reserve, one must exclude all but one other person, com- 
mitted to loyalty. That field was marriage. Therefore when she 
spoke to any man other than her husband she was all to him, 
mother, sister, friend, nurse and benefactress, but not a possible 
mate. She was thus as virginal as any dedicated nun, and that 
for the sake not of renunciation but of consummation. But 


her nature was so various that she comprised many opposites. 
Sometimes she seemed the most idiosyncratic of natures ; 
standing on a balcony high over a street, we looked down on 
the pavement and saw her walking far below, with a dozen 
before her and behind her, darkly dressed like herself, and we 
were able to say at once, " Look, there is the little Bulbul." 
But there were other times when everything she did was so 
classical, so tried and tested in its validity, that she seemed to 
have no individuality at all, and to be merely a chalice filled 
with a draught of tradition. 

There was, indeed, a great range of human beings to be 
seen in Sarajevo, all of sorts imknown to us. In Dubrovnik 
we had visited an antique shop kept by a young man called 
Hassanovitch, of admirable taste, and my husband had bought 
me the most beautiful garment I have ever possessed, a cere- 
monial robe of Persian brocade about a hundred and fifty years 
old, with little gold trees growing on a background faintly 
purple as a wine-stain. We bought it in a leisurely way, over 
several evenings, supported by cups of coffee and slices of Banya 
Luka cheese, which is rather like Port Salut, brought in by his 
little brothers, of which there seemed an inordinate number, 
all with the acolyte’s air of huge quantities of original sin in 
suspension. He had given us a letter of introduction to his 
father, the leading antique dealer of Sarajevo, who invited us 
to his house, a villa up among the high tilted suburbs. 

There we sat and enjoyed the crystalline neatness and 
cleanliness of the prosperous Moslem home, with its divans 
that run along the wall and take the place of much cumbrous 
furniture, and its wall decorations of rugs and textiles, which 
here were gorgeous. We told the father about his son and how 
much we had admired his shop, and we mentioned too a feature 
of our visits that had much amused us. Always we had found 
sitting by the counter a beautiful girl, not the same for more 
than a few evenings, an English or American or German 
tourist, who would look at us with the thirsty and wistful eye 
of a gazelle who intends to come down to the pool and drink 
as soon as the hippopotami have ceased to muddy the water. 
The elder Mr. Hassanovitch stroked his beard and said in 
gratified accents, “ And the kitten also catches mice,” and took 
me to the women’s quarters so that I could tell his wife, the 
mother of his fourteen children. She was an extremely beautiful 



woman in her middle forti^, peace shining from her eyes and 
kneaded into the texture of her smooth flesh ; and she was 
for me as pathetic as the women of Korchula, who believed 
that they had earned their happiness because they had passed 
certain tests of womanhood, and did not realise how fortunate 
they were in having those tests applied. Like those others, she 
was unaware that these tests would be irrelevant unless the 
community felt a need for the functions performed by women, 
and that infatuation with war or modern industry can make it 
entirely forgetful of that need. 

But our last impression of Mr. Hassanovitch was not to 
be merely of benign domesticity. From the moment of our 
meeting I had been troubled by a sense of familiarity about his 
features, and suddenly my husband realised that we had seen 
his face many times before. When the Archduke Franz 
Ferdinand and his wife came to the town hall of Sarajevo on the 
morning of June the twenty-eighth, 1914, Mr. Hassanovitch 
was among the guests summoned to meet them for he was 
already an active Moslem politician, and he is standing to the 
right of the doorway in a photograph which has often been 
reproduced, showing the doomed pair going out to their death. 
That day must have been a blow to him. The contention of our 
Jewish friends that the Austrians had pampered the Moslems 
at the expense of the Christians, and had made them zealous 
supporters, is borne out by the constitution of the assembly 
shown by that photograph : and other photographs taken that 
morning show that when Princip was arrested the men in the 
crowd who are throwing themselves on him are all wearing the 

But I think he would have preferred it to the day he had just 
endured. The friends accompanying us, who knew him well, 
spoke to him of the visit of the Turkish Ministers, and he 
answered them with words that were blankly formal, a splendid 
bandage of his pain and their possible embarrassment at having 
provoked it. It was surprising that the visit had evidently been 
as keen a disappointment to such an expert and informed 
person as it was to the people in the street. Yet I suppose an 
Irish-American politician would suffer deep pain if time should 
bring to power in Eire a president who wanted to break with 
the past and sent an emissary to the States to beg that the old 
Catholic nationalism should be forgotten ; and that he would 


33 » 

even shut his eyes to the possibility that it might happen. The 
analogy was close enough, for here just as in an Irish ward in 
an American town, one was aware that the actions and reactions 
of history had produced a formidable amount of politics. One 
could feel them operating below the surface like a still in a 

But history takes different people differently, even the same 
history. The Sarajevo market is held on Wednesdays, at the 
centre of the town near the bazaar, in a straggling open space 
surrounded by little shops, most of them Moslem pastrycooks’, 
specialising in great cartwheel tarts stuffed with spinach or 
minced meat. The country folk come in by driblets, beginning 
as soon as it is fully light, and going on till nine or ten or eleven, 
for some must walk several hours from their homes : more and 
more pigeons take refuge on the roofs of the two little kiosques 
in the market-place. There are sections in the market allotted 
to various kinds of goods : here there is grain, there wool, more 
people than one would expect are selling scales, and there are 
stalls that gratify a medieval appetite for dried fish and meat, 
which are sold in stinking and sinewy lengths. At one end of 
the market are stuffs and embroideries which are chiefly horrible 
machine-made copies of the local needle-work. The Moslem 
women are always thickest here, but elsewhere you see as many 
Christians as Moslems, and perhaps more ; and these Christians 
are nearly all of a heroic kind. 

The finest are the men, who wear crimson wool scarfs tied 
round their heads and round their throats. This means that 
they have come from villages high in the mountains, where the 
wind blows down from the snows ; and sometimes the scarf 
serves a double purpose, for in many such villages a kind of 
goitre is endemic. These men count themselves as descendants 
of the Haiduks, the Christians who after the Ottoman conquest 
took refuge in the highlands, and came down to the valleys 
every year on St. George’s Day, because by then the trees were 
green enough to give them cover, and they could harry the 
Turks by brigandage. They reckon that man can achieve the 
highest by following the path laid down in the Old Testament. 
I cannot imagine why Victorian travellers in these regions used 
to express contempt for the rayas, or Christian peasants, whom 
they encountered. Any one of these Bosnians could have made 
a single mouthful of a Victorian traveller, green umbrella and 



all. They are extremely tall and sinewy, and walk with a 
rhythmic stride which is not without knowledge of its own 
grace and power. Their darkness flashes and their cheek-bones 
are high and their moustaches are long over fierce lips. Thq^ 
wear dark homespun jackets, often heavily braided, coloured 
belts, often crimson like their headgear, the Bosnian breeches 
that bag between the thighs and outline the hip and flank, and 
shoes made of leather thongs with upcurving points at the toe. 
They seem to clang with belligerence as if they wore armour. 
In every way, I hear, they are formidable. Their women have 
to wait on them while they eat, must take sound beatings every 
now and again, work till they drop, even while child-bearing, 
and walk while their master rides. 

Yet, I wonder. Dear God, is nothing ever what it seems ? 
The women of whom this tale is told, and according to all 
reliable testimony truly told, do not look in the least oppressed. 
They are handsome and sinewy like their men ; but not such 
handsome women as the men are handsome men. A sheep- 
breeder of great experience once told me that in no species and 
variety that he knew were the male and female of equal value 
in their maleness and femaleness. Where the males were truly 
male, the females were not so remarkably female, and where 
the females were truly females the males were not virile. Con- 
stantly his theory is confirmed here. The women look heroes 
rather than heroines, they are raw-boned and their beauty is 
blocked out too roughly. But I will eat my hat if these women 
were not free in the spirit. They passed the chief tests I knew. 
First, they looked happy when they had lost their youth. 
Here, as in all Balkan markets, there were far more elderly 
women than girls ; and there is one corner of it which is 
reserved for a line of women all past middle life, who stand on 
the kerb hawking Bosnian breeches that they have made from 
their own homespun, and exchange the gossip of their various 
villages. Among them I did not see any woman whose face 
was marked by hunger or regret. All looked as if they had 
known a great deal of pain and hardship, but their experience 
had led none of them to doubt whether it is worth while to live. 

It was quite evident as we watched them that these women 
had been able to gratify their essential desires. I do not mean 
simply that they looked as if they had been well mated. Many 
Latin women who have been married at sixteen and have had 



numbers of children look swollen and tallowy with frustration. 
Like all other material experiences, sex has no value other than 
what the spirit assesses ; and the spirit is obstinately influenced 
in its calculation by its preference for freedom. In some sense 
these women had never been enslaved. They had that mark of 
freedom, they had wit. This was not mere guffawing and jeering. 
These were not bumpkins, they could be seen now and then 
engaging in the prettiest passages of formality. We watched 
one of the few young women at the market seek out two of her 
elders : she raised her smooth face to their old lips and they 
kissed her on the cheek, she bent down and kissed their hands. 
It could not have been more graciously done at Versailles ; 
and their wit was of the same pointed, noble kind. 

We followed at the skirts of one who was evidently the 
Voltaire of this world. She was almost a giantess ; her greyish 
red hair straggled about her ears in that untidiness which is 
dearer than any order, since it shows an infatuated interest in 
the universe which cannot spare one second for the mere 
mechanics of existence, and it was tied up in a clean white clout 
under a shawl passed under her chin and knotted on the top 
of her head. She wore a green velvet jacket over a dark home- 
spun dress and coarse white linen sleeves, all clean but wild, 
and strode like a man up and down the market, halting every 
now and then, when some sight struck her as irresistibly comic. 
We could see the impact of the jest on her face, breaking its 
stolidity, as a cast stone shatters the surface of water. The 
wide mouth gaped in laughter, showing a single tooth. Then 
a ferment worked in her eyes. She would turn and go to the 
lower end of the market, and she would put her version of what 
had amused her to every knot of women she met as she passed 
to the upper end. I cursed myself because I could not under- 
stand one word of what she said. But this much I could hear : 
each time she made her joke it sounded more pointed, more 
compact, and drew more laughter. When she came to the upper 
end of the market and her audience was exhausted, a blankness 
fell on her and she ranged the stalls restlessly till she found 
another occasion for her wit. 

This was not just a white blackbird. She was distinguished 
not because she was witty but by the degree of her wit. Later 
on we found a doorway in a street near by where the women 
who had sold all their goods lounged and waited for a motor 



bus. We lounged beside them, looking into the distance as if 
the expectation of a friend made us deaf : and our ears recorded 
the authentic pattern, still recognisable although the words 
could not be understood, of witty talk. These people could pass 
what the French consider the test of a civilised society : they 
could practise the art of general conversation. Voice dovetailed 
into voice without impertinent interruption ; there was light 
and shade, sober judgment was corrected by mocking criticism, 
and another sober judgment established, and every now and 
then the cards were swept off the table by a gush of laughter, 
and the game started afresh. 

None of these women could read. When a boy passed by 
carrying an advertisement of Batya’s shoes they had to ask 
a man they knew to read it for them. They did not suffer 
any great deprivation thereby. Any writer worth his salt 
knows that only a small proportion of literature does more than 
partly compensate people for the damage they have suffered 
by learning to read. These women were their own artists, and 
had done well with their material. The folk-songs of the country 
speak, I believe, of a general perception that is subtle and 
poetic, and one had only to watch any group carefully for it to 
declare itself. I kept my eyes for some time on two elderly 
women who had been intercepted on their way to this club in 
the doorway by a tall old man, who in his day must have been 
magnificent even in this land of magnificent men. Waving a 
staff as if it were a sceptre, he was telling them a dramatic 
story, and because he was absorbed in his own story, the women 
were not troubling to disguise their expressions. There was 
something a shade too self-gratulatory in his handsomeness ; 
no doubt he had been the coq du village in his day. In their 
smiles that knowledge glinted, but not too harshly. They had 
known him all their lives ; they knew that thirty years ago he 
had not been so brave as he said he would be in the affair with 
the gendarmes at the ford, but they knew that later he had 
been much braver than he need have been when he faced the 
Turks in the ruined fortress, they remembered him when the 
good seasons had made him rich and when the snows and winds 
had made him poor. They had heard the gossip at the village 
well pronounce him right on this and wrong over that. They 
judged him with mercy and justice, which is the sign of a free 
spirit, and when his story was finished broke into the right 


laughter, and flattered him by smiling at him as if they were all 
three young again. 

I suspect that women such as these are not truly slaves, but 
have found a fraudulent method of persuading men to give 
them support and leave them their spiritual freedom. It is 
certain that men suffer from a certain timidity, a liability to 
discouragement which makes them reluctant to go on doing 
anything once it has been proved that women can do it as well. 
This was most painfully illustrated during the slump in both 
Europe and America, where wives found to their amazement 
that if they found jobs when their husbands lost theirs and took 
on the burden of keeping the family, they were in no luck at all. 
For their husbands became either their frenzied enemies or 
relapsed into an infantile state of dependence and never worked 
again. If women pretend that they are inferior to men and 
cannot do their work, and abase themselves by picturesque 
symbolic rites, such as giving men their food first and waiting 
on them while they eat, men will go on working and developing 
their powers to the utmost, and will not bother to interfere 
with what women are saying and thinking with their admittedly 
inferior powers. 

It is an enormous risk to take. It makes marriage a gamble, 
since these symbols of abasement always include an abnegation 
of economic and civil rights, and while a genial husband takes 
no advantage of them — and that is to say the vast majority 
of husbands — a malign man will exploit them with the 
rapacity of the grave. It would also be a futile bargain to 
make in the modern industrialised world, for it can only hold 
good where there are no other factors except the equality of 
women threatening the self-confidence of men. In our own 
Western civilisation man is devitalised by the insecurity of 
employment and its artificial nature, so he cannot be restored 
to primitive power by the withdrawal of female rivalry and the 
W'oman would not get any reward for her sacrifice. There is in 
effect no second party to the contract. In the West, moreover, 
the gambling risks of marriage admit of a greater ruin. A man 
who is tied to one village and cannot leave his wife without 
leaving his land is not so dangerous a husband as a man who 
can step on a train and find employment in another town. But 
the greatest objection to this artificial abjection is that it is a 
conscious fraud on the part of women, and life will never be 



easy until human beings can be honest with one another. Still in 
this world of compromises, honour is due to one so far successful 
that it produces these grimly happy heroes, these women who 
stride and laugh, obeying the instructions of their own nature 
and not masculine prescription. 

Sarajevo V 

One morning we walked down to the river, a brightening 
day shining down from the skies and up from puddles. A 
Moslem boy sold us an armful of wet lilac, a pigeon flew up 
from a bath in a puddle, its wings dispersing watery diamonds. 
“ Now it is the spring,” said Constantine, “ I think we shall 
have good weather to-morrow for our trip to Ilidzhe, and better 
weather the day after for our trip to Yaitse. Yes, I think it will 
be well. All will be very well.” When he is pleased with his 
country he walks procession ally, like an expectant mother, with 
his stomach well forw’ard. “ But see what we told you the other 
night,” he said as we came to the embankment and saw the 
Town Hall. ” Under the Austrians all was for the Moslems. 
Look at this building, it is as Moslem as a mosque, yet always 
since the Turks were driven out of Bosnia the Christians have 
been two-thirds of the population. So did the Catholic Haps- 
burgs deny their faith ” 

Actually it is the Moslems who have most reason to com- 
plain of this Town Hall, for their architecture in Sarajevo is 
exquisite in its restraint and amiability, and even in modern 
times has been true to that tradition. But this was designed 
by an Austrian architect, and it is stuffed with beer and sausages 
down to its toes. It is harshly particoloured and has a lumpish 
two-storeyed loggia with crudely fretted arches, and it has little 
round windows all over it which suggest that it is rich beyond 
the dreams of avarice in lavatories, and its highly ornamented 
cornices are Oriental in a pejorative sense. The minaret of the 
idosque beside it has the air of a cat that watches a dog making 
a fool of itself. 

Within, however, it is very agreeable, and remarkably full 
of light ; and in an office high up we found a tourist bureau, 
conducted with passion by a man in the beginnings of middle 
life, a great lover of his city. He dealt us out photographs of 


it for some time, pausing to gloat over them, but stopped when 
Constantine said, “ Show these English the room where they 
held the reception which was the last thing the Archduke Franz 
Ferdinand and the Archduchess Sophie saw of their fellow* 
men.” The head of the tourist bureau bowed as if he had re- 
ceived a compliment and led us out into the central lobby, where 
a young man in a fez, a woman in black bloomers, and an old 
man and woman undistinguishable from any needy and respect- 
able pair in South Kensington, shuffled up the great staircase, 
while a young man quite like an Englishman save that he was 
carrying a gusla ran down it. We went into the Council 
Chamber, not unsuccessful in its effort at Moslem pomp. ” All 
is Moslem here,” said the head of the tourist bureau, “ and 
even now that we are Yugoslavian the mayor is always a 
Moslem, and that is right. Perhaps it helps us by conciliating 
the Moslems, but even if it did not we ought to do it. For no 
matter how many Christians we may be here, and no matter 
what we make of the city — and we are doing wonderful things 
with it — the genius that formed it in the first place was Moslem, 
and again Moslem, and again Moslem.” 

But the three reception rooms were as libellous as the 
exterior. They were pedantically yet monstrously decorated 
in imitation of certain famous buildings of Constantinople, 
raising domes like gilded honeycomb tripe, pressing down 
between the vaults polychrome stumps like vast inverted Roman 
candles. That this was the copy of something gorgeous could 
be seen ; it could also be seen that the copyist had been by 
blood incapable of comprehending that gorgeousness. Punch- 
drunk from this architecttiral assault I lowered my eyes, and 
the world seemed to reel. And here, it appeared, the world 
had once actually reeled. 

“ It was just over here that I stood with my father,” said 
the head of the tourist bureau. “ My father had been down- 
stairs in the hall among those who received the Archduke and 
Archduchess, and had seen the Archduke come in, red and 
choking with rage. Just a little way along the embankment a 
young man Chabrinovitch had thrown a bomb at him and had 
wounded his aide-de-camp. So when the poor Mayor began 
to read his address of welcome he shouted out in a thin alto, 
‘ That’s all a lot of rot. I come here to pay you a visit, and you 
throw bombs at me. It's an outrage.’ Then the Archduchess 



spoke to him softly, and he calmed down and said, ^ Oh, well, 
you can -go on But at the end of the speech there was another 
scene, because the Archduke had not got his speech, and for a 
moment the secretary who had it could not be found. Then 
when it was brought to him he was like a madman, because the 
manuscript was all spattered with the aide-de-camp’s blood. 

" But he read the speech, and then came up here with the 
Archduchess, into this room. My father followed, in such a 
state of astonishment that he walked over and took my hand 
and stood beside me, squeezing it very tightly. We all could 
not take our eyes off the Archduke, but not as you look at the 
main person in a court spectacle. We could not think of him 
as a royalty at all, he was so incredibly strange. He was striding 
quite grotesquely, he was lifting his legs as high as if he were 
doing the goose-step. I suppose he was trying to show that he 
was not afraid. 

" I tell you, it was not at all like a reception. He was talking 
with the Military Governor, General Potiorek, jeering at him 
and taunting him with his failure to preserve order. And we 
were all silent, not because we were impressed by him, for he was 
not at all our Bosnian idea of a hero. But we all felt awkward 
because we knew that when he went out he would certainly be 
killed. No, it was not a matter of being told. But we knew 
how the people felt about him and the Austrians, and we knew 
that if one man had thrown a bomb and failed, another man 
would throw another bomb and another after that if he should 
fail. I tell you it gave a very strange feeling to the assembly. 
Then I remember he went out on the balcony — so — and looked 
out over Sarajevo. Yes, he stood just where you are standing, 
and he too put his arm on the balustrade.” 

Before the balcony the town rises on the other side of the 
river, in a gentle slope. Stout urban buildings stand among 
tall poplars, and above them white villas stand among orchards, 
and higher still the white cylindrical tombs of the Moslems 
stick askew in the rough grass like darts impaled on the board. 
Then fir-woods and bare bluffs meet the skyline. Under Franz 
Ferdinand’s eye the scene must have looked its most enchanting 
blend of town and country, for though it was June there had 
been heavy restoring rains. But it is not right to assume that 
the sight gave him pleasure. He was essentially a Hapsburg, 
that is to say, his blood made him turn always from the natural 


to the artificial, even when this was more terrifying than any* 
thing primitive could be ; and this landscape showed him on 
its heights nature unsubdued and on its slopes nature ac- 
cepted and extolled. Perhaps Franz Ferdinand felt a patriotic 
glow at the sight of the immense brewery in the foreground, 
which was built by the Austrians to supply the needs of their 
garrison and functionaries. These breweries, which are to be 
found here and there in Bosnia, throw a light on the aggressive 
nature of Austrian foreign policy and its sordid consequences. 
They were founded while this was still Turkish, by speculators 
whose friends in the government were aware of Austria's plans 
for occupation and annexation. They also have their signifi- 
cance in their affront to local resources. It is quite unnecessary 
to drink beer here, as there is an abundance of cheap and good 
wine. But what was Austrian was good and what was Slav 
was bad. 

It is unjust to say that Franz Ferdinand had no contact 
with nature. The room behind him was full of people who 
were watching him with the impersonal awe evoked by anybody 
who is about to die ; but it may be imagined also as crammed, 
how closely can be judged only by those who have decided how 
many angels can dance on the point of a needle, by the ghosts 
of the innumerable birds and beasts who had fallen to his gun. 
He was a superb shot, and that is certainly a fine thing for a 
man to be, proof that he is a good animal, quick in eye and 
hand and hardy under weather. But of his gift Franz Ferdinand 
made a murderous use. He liked to kill and kill and kill, unlike 
men who shoot to get food or who have kept in touch with 
the primitive life in which the original purpose of shooting is 
remembered. Prodigious figures are given of the game that 
fell to the double-barrelled Mannlicher rifles which were speci- 
ally made for him. At a boar hunt given by Kaiser Wilhelm 
sixty boars were let out, and Franz Ferdinand had the first 
stand : fifty-nine fell dead, the sixtieth limped by on three legs. 
At a Czech castle in one day’s sport he bagged two thousand 
and one hundred and fifty pieces of small game. Not long 
before his death he expressed satisfaction because he had 
killed his three thousandth stag. 

This capacity for butchery he used to express the hatred 
which he felt for nearly all the world, which indeed, it is safe to 
say, he bore against the whole world, except his wife and his 



two children. He had that sense of being betrayed by life 
itself which comes to people who wrestle through long years 
with a chronic and dangerous malady ; it- is strange that both 
King Alexander of Yugoslavia and he had fought for half 
their days against tuberculosis. But Franz Ferdinand had been 
embittered by his environment, as Alexander was not. The 
indiscipline and brutality of the officials who controlled the 
Hapsburg court had been specially directed towards him. It 
happened that for some years it looked as if Franz Ferdinand 
would not recover from his illness, and during the whole of this 
time the Department of the Lord High Steward, believing that 
he would soon be dead, cut down his expenses to the quick in 
order to get the praises of the Emperor Franz Josef for economy. 
The poor wretch, penniless in spite of the great art collection.^ 
he had inherited, was grudged the most modest allowance, and 
even his doctor was underpaid and insulted. This maltreatment 
had ended when it became obvious that he was going to live, but 
by that time his mind was set in a mould of hatred and resent- 
ment, and though he could not shoot his enemies he found some 
relief in shooting, it did not matter what. 

Franz Ferdinand knew no shame in his exercise of this too 
simple mechanism.. He was ungracious as only a man can be 
who has never conceived the idea of graciousness. There was, 
for example, his dispute with Count Henkel Donnersmark, the 
German nobleman who was a wild young diplomat in Paris 
before the Franco-Prussian war, returned there to negotiate 
the terms of the indemnity, astonished the world by marrying 
the cocotte La Paiva, and changed into a sober and far-seeing 
industrialist on the grand scale. This elderly and distinguished 
person had bought an estate in Silesia, and had made it pay for 
itself by selling the full-grown timber and replacing it by a 
careful scheme of reafforestation. This estate he leased to the 
Archduke at a rent calculated on the assumption that so much 
game existed on the property and would do so much damage 
to the saplings. As the Archduke enormously increased the 
stock of game, and practically no new trees could grow to 
maturity, the Count very reasonably raised the rent. This the 
Archduke, who had the wholly whimsical attitude to money 
often found in royal personages, conceived to be a senseless 
piece of greed. He gave notice to terminate his lease and 
decided to punish the landlord by ruining the estate as a sporting 


34 * 

property. The remainder of his tenancy he spent in organising 
battues which drove all the beasts of the field up to his guns 
to be slaughtered in such numbers that slaughter lost its mean- 
ing, that the boundaiy between living and dying became 
obscured, that dazed men forgot that they were killing. But 
he and his staff found that the forces of life outnumbered them, 
so he let part of the shoot to a Viennese manufacturer, a man 
with whom he could not have brought himself to have rela- 
tions for any other reason, on condition that he pursued the 
same crusade of extermination. That, however, was still not 
enough, and the employees of the hunt were set to kill off 
what was left of the game by any means, abandoning all sporting 
restraints. Because the forest still twitched with life, because 
here and there the fern was trodden down and branches stirred 
by survivors of the massacre, the Archduke suffered several 
attacks of rage which disgusted all witnesses, being violent as 
vomiting or colic. 

It may be conceived therefore that, even as the game which 
St. Julian Hospitaller had killed as a cruel hunter appeared 
before him on the night when he was going to accomplish his 
destiny and become the murderer of his father and mother, so 
the half million beasts which had fallen to Franz Ferdinand’s 
gun according to his own calculations were present that day in 
the reception hall at Sarajevo. One can conceive the space of 
this room stuffed all the way up to the crimson and gold vaults 
and stalactites with the furred and feathered ghosts, set close, 
because there were so many of them : stags with the air be- 
tween their antlers stuffed with woodcock, quail, pheasant, 
partridge, capercailzie and the like : boars standing bristling 
flank to flank, the breadth under their broad bellies packed 
with layer upon layer of hares and rabbits. Their animal eyes, 
clear and dark as water, would brightly watch the approach of 
their slayer to an end that exactly resembled their own. For 
Franz Ferdinand’s greatness as a hunter had depended not only 
on his pre-eminence as a shot, but on his power of organising 
battues. He was specially proud of an improvement he had made 
in the hunting of hare : his beaters, placed in a pear-shaped 
formation, drove all the hares towards him so that he was able 
without effort to exceed the bag of all other guns. Not a beast 
that fell to him in these battues could have escaped by its own 
strength or cunning, even if it had been a genius among its 



kind. The earth and sky were narrowed for it by the beaters 
to just one spot, the spot where it must die ; and so it was with 
this man. If by some miracle he had been able to turn round 
and address the people in the room behind him not with his 
usual aggressiveness and angularity but in terms which would 
have made him acceptable to them as a suffering fellow-creature, 
still they could not have saved him. If by some miracle his 
slow-working and clumsy mind could have become swift and 
subtle, it could not have shown him a safe road out of Sarajevo. 
Long ago he himself, and the blood which was in his veins, had 
placed at their posts the beaters who should drive him down 
through a narrowing world to the spot where Princip’s bullet 
would find him. 

Through Franz Ferdinand’s mother, the hollow-eyed An- 
nunziata, he was the grandson of King Bomba of the Sicilies, 
one of the worst of the Bourbons, an idiot despot who conducted 
a massacre of his subjects after 1848, and on being expelled 
from Naples retired into a fortress and lived the life of a medieval 
tyrant right on until the end of the fifties. This ancestry had 
given Franz Ferdinand tuberculosis, obstinacy, bigotry, a habit 
of suspicion, hatred of democracy and an itch for aggression, 
which, combined with the Hapsburg narrowness and indis- 
cipline, made him a human being who could not have hoped 
to survive had he not been royal. When he went to Egypt to 
spend the winter for the sake of his lungs it appeared to him 
necessary, and nobody who knew him would have expected 
anything else, to insult the Austrian Ambassador. By the 
time he had passed through his twenties he had made an army 
of personal enemies, which he constantly increased by his in- 
temperate and uninstructed political hatreds. He hated Hun- 
gary, the name of Kossuth made him spit with rage. When 
receiving a deputation of Slovaks, though they were not a 
people whom he would naturally have taken into his confidence, 
he said of the Hungarians, *' It was an act of bad taste on the 
part of these gentlemen ever to have come to Europe,” which 
must remain an ace in the history of royal indiscretion. 

He had a dream of replacing the Dual Monarchy by a 
Triune Monarchy, in which the German and Czech crown 
lands should form the first part, Hungary the second, and the 
South Slav group — Croatia, Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herze- 
govina — the third. This would have pleased the Croats, and 



the Croats alone. Most German Austrians would have been 
infuriated at having to combine with the Czechs and to see the 
South Slavs treated as their equals ; Hungary would have 
been enraged at losing her power over the South Slavs ; and 
the non-Catholic South Slavs would have justly feared being 
made the object of Catholic propaganda and would have 
resented being cut off from their natural ambition of union 
with the Serbs of Serbia. By this scheme, therefore, he made a 
host of enemies ; and though he came in time to abandon it he 
could not quickly turn these enemies into friends by making 
public his change of mind. As he was the heir to the throne, 
he could announce his policy only by the slow method of com- 
municating it to private individuals. 

He abandoned his plan of the Triune Monarchy, moreover, 
for reasons too delicate to be freely discussed. In 1901, when 
he was thirty-three, he had paid some duty calls on the Czech 
home of his cousins, the Archduke Frederick and the Arch- 
duchess Isabella, to see if he found one of their many daughters 
acceptable as his bride. Instead he fell in love with the Arch- 
duchess’s lady-in-waiting, Sophie Chotek, a woman of thirty- 
two, noble but destitute. He insisted on marrying her in spite 
of the agonised objection of the Emperor Franz Josef, who 
pointed out to him that, according to the Hapsburg House Law, 
the secret law of the Monarchy, a woman of such low birth 
could not come to the throne as consort of the Emperor. 

It was not a question of permission that could be bestowed 
or withheld, but of a rigid legal fact. If Franz Ferdinand was 
to marry Sophie Chotek at all he must do it morganatically, 
and must renounce all rights of succession for the yet unborn 
children of their marriage ; he could no more marry her any 
other way than a man with a living and undivorced wife can 
marry a second woman, though the infringement here was of an 
unpublished dynastic regulation instead of the published law. 
But some mitigation of this severe judgment came from an 
unexpected quarter. The younger Kossuth declared that, 
according to Hungarian law, when the Archduke ascended the 
throne his wife, no matter what her origin, became Queen of 
Hungary, and his children must enjoy the full rights of suc- 
cession. This weakened the vehemence of Franz Ferdinand’s 
loathing for Hungary, though not for individual Hungarians. 
He still meant to revise the constitutional machinery of the 



Dual Monarchy, but he no longer wished to punish the 
Hungarians quite so harshly as to take away from them the 
Croats and Slovaks. But this was not a consideration he could 
publicly name. Nor, for diplomatic reasons, could he confess 
later that he was becoming more and more fearful of the growing 
strength of Serbia, and was apprehensive lest a union of South 
Slav provinces should tempt her ambition and provide her with 
a unified ally. So, by his promulgation of an unpopular policy, 
and his inability to announce his abandonment of it, the first 
beaters were put down to the battue. 

His marriage set others at their post. Franz Ferdinand 
had far too dull a mind to appreciate the need for consistency. 
That was once visibly demonstrated in relation to his passion 
for collecting antiques, which he bought eagerly and without 
discrimination. When he paid a visit to a country church, the 
simple priest boasted to him of a good bargain he had driven 
with a Jew dealer, who had given him a brand-new altar in 
exchange for his shabby old one. Immediately Franz Ferdinand 
sat down and wrote to the Bishop of the diocese asking him to 
give his clergy an order not to part with Church property. 
But he was quite amazed when later this order prevented him 
from carrying out the sacrilegious purchase of a tombstone 
which he wished to put in his private chapel. He showed a 
like inconsistency in regard to his marriage. His whole life 
was based on the privileges that were given to the members of 
the Hapsburg family because the Hapsburgs had been preserved 
in a certain state of genealogical purity which Austria had 
agreed to consider valuable. He could not understand that, 
as this purity was the justification of those privileges, they could 
not be extended to people in whom the Hapsburg blood had 
been polluted. He took it as a personal insult, a bitter, cause- 
less hurt, that his wife and his children should not be given 
royal honours. 

Nor did his inconsistencies end there. Himself a typical 
product of Hapsburg indiscipline, he nevertheless made no 
allowances when his relatives and the officials of the court 
reacted to his marriage with a like indiscipline. He had here, 
indeed, a legitimate object for hatred, in a character as strange 
as his own. Franz Josef’s Chamberlain, Prince Montenuovo, 
was one of the strangest figures in Europe of our time ; a 
character that Shakespeare decided at the last moment not to use 


in King Lear or Othello, and laid by so carelessly that it fell out 
of art into life. He was a man of exquisite taste and aesthetic 
courage, who protected the artists of Vienna against the apathy 
of the court and the imprudence of the bourgeoisie. The 
Vienna Philharmonic under Mahler was his special pride and 
care. But he was the son of one of the bastard sons mothered 
by the wretched Marie Louise, when, unsustained by the opinion 
of historians yet unborn that she was and should have been 
perfectly happy in her forced marriage with Napoleon, she took 
refuge in the arms of Baron Niepperg. To be the bastard son 
of a race which was so great that it could make bastardy as noble 
as legitimacy, but which was great only because its legitimacy 
was untainted with bastardy, confused this imaginative man with 
a passionate and poetic and malignant madness. He watched 
over the rules of Hapsburg ceremonial as over a case of p>oisons 
which he believed to compose the elixir of life if they were com- 
bined in the correct proportions. “ And now for the strychnine,” 
he must have said, when it became his duty to devise the 
adjustments made necessary by the presence at the court of a 
morganatic wife to the heir of the throne. Countess Sophie 
was excluded altogether from most intimate functions of the 
Austrian court ; she could not accompany her husband to the 
family receptions or parties given for foreign royalties, or even 
to the most exclusive kinds of court balls ; at the semi-public 
kind of court balls which she was allowed to attend her husband 
had to head the procession with an Archduchess on his arm, 
while she was forced to walk at the very end, behind the youngest 
princess. The Emperor did what he could to mitigate the situa- 
tion by creating her the Duchess of Hohenberg: but the 
obsessed Montenuovo hovered over her, striving to exacerbate 
every possible humiliation, never happier than when he could 
hold her back from entering a court carriage or cutting down 
to the minimum the salutes and attendants called for by any 
State occasion. 

It is possible that had Franz Ferdinand been a different 
kind of man he might have evoked a sympathy which would have 
consoled him and his wife for these hardships ; but all his ways 
were repellent. When his brother, Ferdinand Charles, a gentle 
soul with literary tastes, doomed to an early death from con- 
sumption, fell in love with a woman not of royal rank, Franz 
Ferdinand was the first to oppose the misalliance and made 



violent scenes with the invalid. When it was pointed out that 
he had married for love he answered angrily that there could 
be no comparison between the two cases, because Sophie 
Chotek was an aristocrat and his brother’s wife was the daughter 
of a university professor. Such lack of humour, which amounts 
to a lack of humours in the Elizabethan sense, isolated him from 
all friends, so instead he created partisans. He had been 
given, for his Viennese home, the superb palace and park 
known as the Belvedere, which had been built by Prince Eugene 
of Savoy. He now made it the centre of what the historian 
Tschuppik has called a shadow government. He set up a 
military Chancellery of his own ; and presently the Emperor 
Franz Josef, who always treated his nephew with an even 
remarkable degree of tenderness and forbearance, though not 
with tact, resigned to this his control over the army. But the 
Chancellery dealt with much more than military matters. Franz 
Ferdinand attracted every able man in Austria who had been 
ignored or rejected by the court of Franz Josef, and thanks to 
the stupidity and bad manners of that court these were not 
contemptible in quality or inconsiderable in numbers. Helped 
by Franz Ferdinand to form a running point-by-point opposition 
to the mild policy of Franz Josef, these men carried into eflFect 
his faith in half measures ; and they drafted a programme 
for him which was indiscreetly spoken of as a scheme of reform 
designed for preventing the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire, to be applied as soon as Franz Josef was dead and 
Franz Ferdinand had ascended the throne. 

This way of life set still more beaters around him. It 
automatically roused the animosity of all at the court of Franz 
Josef, and many of his own partisans became his overt or 
covert enemies. He became day by day less lovable. His 
knowledge that he could not leave the royal path of his future 
to his children made him fanatically mean and grasping, and 
his manner became more and more overbearing and brutal. 
He roused in small men small resentments, and, in the minds 
of the really able men, large distrust. They realised that though 
he was shrewd enough to see that the Austro-Hungarian Empire 
was falling to pieces when most of his kind were wholly blind 
to its decay, he was fundamentally stupid and cruel and saw 
his problem as merely that of selecting the proper objects for 
tyranny. Some of them feared a resort to medieval oppression : 


some feared the damage done to specific interests, particularly 
in Hungary, which was bound to follow his resettlement of the 
empire. Such fears must have gained in intensity when it 
became evident that Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was taking 
more and more interest in Franz Ferdinand, and was visiting 
him at his country homes and holding long conversations with 
him on important matters. The last visit of this kind had 
occurred a fortnight before the Archduke had come to Sarajevo. 
There is a rumour that on that occasion the Kaiser laid before 
Franz Ferdinand a plan for remaking the map of Europe. The 
Austro-Hungarian and German empires were to be friends, and 
Franz Ferdinand’s eldest son was to become king of a new 
Poland stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, while the 
second son became King of Bohemia, Hungary, Croatia and 
Serbia, and Franz Ferdinand’s official heir, his nephew Charles, 
was left as King of German Austria. It is certain that Kaiser 
Wilhelm must, at that moment, have had many important 
things on his mind, and that it is hardly likely that he would 
have paid such a visit unless he had something grave to say. 
It is definitely known that on this occasion Franz Ferdinand 
expressed bitter hostility to the Hungarian aristocracy. It is 
also known that these remarks were repeated at the time by 
the Kaiser to a third person. 

The manners of Franz Ferdinand did worse for him than 
make him enemies. They made him the gangster friends that 
may become enemies at any moment, with the deadly weapon of 
a friend’s close knowledge. Franz Ferdinand’s plainest sign of 
intelligence was his capacity for recognising a certain type of 
unscrupulous ability. He had discovered Aerenthal, the clever 
trickster who as Austrian Minister had managed to convert 
the provisional occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into 
annexation behind the backs of the other great powers in igo8. 
Since Aerenthal on his deathbed had recommended Berchtold 
to succeed him, that incompetent war-monger might also be 
counted as one of the works of Franz Ferdinand. But an 
even greater favourite of his was Conrad von Hotzendorf, 
whom he made the Chief of General Staff. This creature, 
who was without sense or bowels, fancied himself not only as 
a great soldier but as a statesman, and would have directed the 
foreign policy of his country had he been allowed. He was 
obsessed by the need of preserving the Austro-Hungarian 



Empire by an offensive against Serbia. " Lest all our pre< 
destined foes, having perfected their armaments should deliver 
a blow against Austria-Hungary,” he wrote in a memorandum 
he presented to Franz Josef in 1907 which was followed by many 
like it, " we must take the first opportunity of settling accounts 
with our most vulnerable enemy.” In the intervening seven 
years this obsession fiamed up into a mania. In 191 1 Franz 
Josef, with the definite statements that “ my policy is pacific ”, 
and that he would permit no question of an offensive war, 
obtained Aerenthal’s consent and dismissed Conrad from his 
post, making him an Inspector-General of the Army. But Franz 
Ferdinand still stood by him, and so did all the partisans of 
the Belvedere, who numbered enough industrialists, bankers, 
journalists and politicians to make plain the decadence of pre- 
war Vienna. Berchtold was so much impressed by Conrad 
that in 1912 he was once more appointed Chief of General Staff. 
He was preaching the same gospel. “ The way out of our diffi- 
culties,” he wrote to Berchtold, “ b to lay Serbia low without 
fear of consequences." 

But at this time Franz Ferdinand’s convictions took a new 
turn. He was becoming more and more subject to the influ- 
ence of the German Kaiser, and Germany had no desire at 
that time for war, particularly with a Balkan pretext. He 
admired the Germans and thought they probably knew their 
business. This infuriated Conrad, who thought that Franz 
Ferdinand ought to persuade Germany to support Austria, so 
that he could feel confident even if their offensive war against 
Serbia spread into a general conflagration, which shows that 
he knew what he was doing. But in 1913 Berchtold had to 
tell Conrad, " The Archduke Franz Ferdinand is absolutely 
against war.” At this Conrad became more and more desperate. 
His influence over Berchtold had been sufficient to make him 
refuse to see the Prime Minister of Serbia when he offered to 
come to Vienna to negotiate a treaty with Austria, covering all 
possible points of dispute. He persuaded Berchtold, moreover, 
to withhold all knowledge of this pacific offer from either Franz 
Josef or Franz Ferdinand. This is the great criminal act which 
gives us the right to curse Berchtold and Conrad as the true 
instigators of the World War. But Conrad was no less crude 
when in 1913 he used a trifling incident on the Dalmatian coast 
to attempt to get the Emperor Franz Josef to mobilise against 



Serbia and Montenegro. This coercion Franz Josef, with a 
firmness remarkable in a man of eighty-seven, quietly resisted, 
even though Berchtold supported Conrad, and this time Franz 
Ferdinand was in agreement with the old man. 

Shortly after this another incident lowered Conrad’s stock 
still further. Colonel Redl, the Chief of General Staff to the 
Fjrague Corps, who had been head of the Austrian espionage 
service, was found to be a spy in the pay of Russia. He was a 
homosexual, and had fallen into the hands of blackmailers. 
He was handed a loaded revolver by a brother officer and left 
alone to commit suicide. This caused Franz Ferdinand to fly 
into one of his terrible attacks of rage against Conrad, who 
had been responsible both for Redl’s appointment to the 
espionage department and for the manner of his death. He was 
incensed that a homosexual should have been given such a 
position partly for moral reasons, and partly because of the 
special liability of such men to blackmail ; and it offended his 
religious convictions that any man should have been forced to 
commit suicide. This last was hardly a fair charge to bring 
against Conrad, since the loaded revolver was an established 
Army convention in the case of shameful offences. But thence- 
forward the two men were enemies. 

There was no doubt about this after the autumn of 1913. 
At the Army manoeuvres in Bohemia Franz Ferdinand grossly 
insulted and humiliated his former friend, but refused to 
accept his resignation. He however made it clear that the only 
reason for the refusal was fear of a bad effect on the public 
mind. In June 1914 Conrad was eating his heart out in dis- 
appointment, bearing a private and public grudge against the 
man who had disgraced him and who would not engage in the 
war against Serbia which he himself believed necessary for his 
country’s salvation. 

It must be realised that he was a very relentless man. He 
himself has told of a conversation he had with Berchtold about 
the unhappy German prince, William of Wied, who was sent 
to be King of Albania. “ Let us hope there will be no hitch,” 
said Berchtold ; ” but what shall we do if there is ? ” 

“ Nothing at all,” said Conrad. “ But what if the prince is 
assassinated ? ” asked Berchtold. *' Even then we can do 
nothing,” said Conrad. “ Somebody else must take the throne 
in his place. Anybody will suit us as long as he is not under 



foreign influence.” The conversation is the more grievous 
when it is understood that they had just refused William ot 
Wied’s very reasonable request that he might live on a yacht 
rather than lodge among his reluctant subjects. 

Such enemies surrounded Franz Ferdinand ; but it cannot 
be laid at their door that he had come to Sarajevo on June the 
twenty-eighth, 1914. This was a day of some personal signifi- 
cance to him. On that date in 1900 he had gone to the Hofburg 
in the presence of the Emperor and the whole court, and all 
holders of office, and had, in choking tones, taken the oath to 
renounce the royal rights of his unborn children. But it was 
also a day of immense significance for the South Slav people. 
It is the feast-day of St. Vitus, who is one of those saints who 
are lucky to find a place in the Christian calendar, since they 
started life as pagan deities ; he was originally Vidd, a Finnish- 
Ugric deity. It is also the armiversary of the battle of Kossovo, 
where five centuries before the Serbs had lost their empire to 
the Turk. It had been a day of holy mourning for the Serbian 
people within the Serbian kingdom and the Austrian Empire, 
when they had confronted their disgrace and vowed to redeem 
it, until the year 1912, when Serbia’s victory over the Turks at 
Kumanovo wiped it out. But, since 1913 had still been a time 
of war, the St. Vitus’ Day of 1914 was the first anniversary 
which might have been celebrated by the Serbs in joy and pride. 
Franz Ferdinand must have been well aware that he was Imown 
as an enemy of Serbia. He must have known that if he went to 
Bosnia and conducted manoeuvres on the Serbian frontier just 
before St. Vitus’ Day and on the actual anniversary paid a 
State visit to Sarajevo, he would be understood to be mocking 
the South Slav world, to be telling them that though the Serbs 
might have freed themselves from the Turks there were still 
many Slavs under the Austrian’s yoke. 

To pay that visit was an act so suicidal that one fumbles 
the pages of the histoiy books to find if there is not some explana- 
tion of his going, if he was not subject to some compulsion. 
But if ever a man went anywhere of his own free will, Franz 
Ferdinand went so to Sarajevo. He himself ordered the 
manoeuvres and decided to attend them. The Emperor Franz 
Josef, in the presence of witnesses, told him that he need not 
go unless he wished. Yet it appears inconceivable that he should 
not have known that the whole of Bosnia was seething with 


revolt, and that almost every schoolboy and student in the 
province was a member of some revolutionary society. Even 
if the extraordinary isolation that afflicts royal personages had 
previously prevented him from sharing this common knowledge, 
steps were taken to remove his ignorance. But here his tempera- 
ment intervened on behalf of his own death. The Serbian 
Government — which by this single act acquitted itself of all 
moral blame for the assassination — sent its Minister in Vienna 
to warn Bilinski, the Joint Finance Minister, who was re- 
sponsible for the civil administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
that the proposed visit of Franz Ferdinand would enrage many 
Slavs on both sides of the frontier and might cause consequences 
which neither Government could control. But Bilinski was an 
Austrian Pole ; Ferdinand loathed all his race, and had bitterly 
expressed his resentment that any of them were allowed to hold 
high office. Bilinski was also a close confidant of old Franz 
Josef and an advocate of a conciliatory policy in the Slav 
provinces. Thus it happened that, when he conscientiously went 
to transmit this message, his warnings were received not only 
with incredulity but in a way that made it both psychologically 
and materially impossible to repeat them. 

Franz Ferdinand never informed in advance either the 
Austrian or the Hungarian Government of the arrangements he 
had made with the Army to visit Bosnia, and he seems to have 
worked earnestly and ingeniously, as people will to get up a 
bazaar, to insult the civil authorities. When he printed the 
programme of his journey he sent it to all the Ministries except 
the Joint Ministry of Finance ; and he ordered that no invita- 
tions for the ball which he was to give after the manoeuvres out- 
side Sarajevo at Ilidzhe, were to be sent to any of the Finance 
Ministry officials. It is as if a Prince of Wales had travelled 
through India brutally insulting the Indian Civil Service and 
the India Office. There was a thoroughly Hapsburg reason 
for this. Since the military authorities were in charge of all 
the arrangements, it had been easy for Franz Ferdinand to 
arrange that for the first time on Hapsburg territory royal 
honours would be paid to his wife. This could not have 
happened without much more discussion if the civil authorities 
had been involved. The result was final and bloody. Bilinski 
could not protest against Franz Ferdinand’s visit to Sarajevo 
when he was not sure it was going to take place, considering 



the indelicate rag^ with which all his approaches were met. 
This inability to discuss the visit meant that he could not even 
supervise the arrangements for policing the streets. With in- 
credible ingenuity, Franz Ferdinand had created a situation 
in which those whose business it was to protect him could not 
take one step towards his protection. 

When Franz Ferdinand returned from the balcony into the 
reception room his face became radiant and serene, because 
he saw before him the final agent of his ruin, the key beater 
in this battue. His wife had been in an upper room of the 
Town Hall, meeting a number of ladies belonging to the chief 
Moslem families of the town, in order that she might con- 
descendingly admire their costumes and manners, as is the 
habit of barbarians who have conquered an ancient culture ; and 
she had now made the proposal that on the return journey she 
and her husband should alter their programme by going to the 
hospital to make enquiries about the officer wounded by Chab- 
rinovitch. Nothing can ever be known about the attitude of 
this woman to that day’s events. She was a woman who could 
not communicate with her fellow-creatures. We know only of 
her outer appearance and behaviour. We know that she had an 
anaphrodisiac and pinched yet heavy face, that in a day when 
women were bred to look like table-birds she took this con- 
vention of amplitude and expressed it with the rigidity of the 
drill sergeant. We know that she impressed those who knew 
her as absorbed in snobbish ambitions and petty resentments, 
and that she had as her chief ingratiating attribute a talent for 
mimicry, which is often the sport of an unloving and derisive soul. 

But we also know that she and Franz Ferdinand felt for each 
other what cannot be denied to have been a great love. Each 
found in the other a perpetual assurance that the meaning of 
life is kind ; each gave the other that assurance in terms suited 
to their changing circumstances and with inexhaustible re- 
sourcefulness and good-will ; it is believed by those who knew 
them best that neither of them ever fell from the heights of 
their relationship and reproached the other for the hardships 
that their marriage had brought upon them. That is to say 
that the boar we know as Franz Ferdinand and the small- 
minded fury we know as Countess Sophie Chotek are not the 
ultimate truth about these people. These were the pragmatic 
conceptions of them that those who met them had to use if they 



were to escape unhurt, but the whole truth about their natures 
must certainly have been to some degree beautiful. 

Even in this field where Sophie Chotek’s beauty lay she 
was dangerous. Like her husband she could see no point in 
consistency, which is the very mortar of society. Because of her 
noble birth she bitterly resented her position as a morganatic 
wife. It was infamous, she felt, that a Chotek should be treated 
in this way. It never occurred to her that Choteks had a value 
only because they had been accorded it by a system which, for 
reasons that were perfectly valid at the time, accorded the Haps- 
burgs a greater value ; and that if those reasons had ceased 
to be valid and the Hapsburgs should no longer be treated as 
supreme, then the Choteks also had lost their claim to eminence. 

Unfortunately she coupled with this inconsistency a severely 
legalistic mind. It can be done. The English bench has given 
us examples. She had discovered, and is said to have urged 
her discovery on Franz Ferdinand, that the oath he had taken 
to renounce the rights of succession for his children was contrary 
to Crown Law. No one can swear an oath which affects the 
unborn ; this is, of course, perfectly just. It did not occur to her 
that, if the maintenance of the Hapsburgs required the taking of 
unjust oaths, perhaps the Hapsburg dynasty would fall to pieces 
if it were forced to live on the plane of highest justice, and that 
her children might find themselves again without a throne. 

Countess Sophie Chotek must therefore have had her hands 
full of the complicated hells of the humourless legalist ; it must 
have seemed to her that her environment was always perversely 
resisting the imposition of a perfect pattern, to her grave per- 
sonal damage. She had, however, a more poignant personal 
grief. She believed Franz Ferdinand to be on the point of going 
mad. It is on record that she hinted to her family lawyer and 
explicitly informed an intimate friend that in her opinion her 
husband might at any moment be stricken with some form of 
mental disorder. This may have been merely part of that corpus 
of criticism which might be called " Any Wife to any Husband ”. 
But there were current many stories which go to show that 
Franz Ferdinand's violence had for some time been manifest 
in ways not compatible with sanity. The Czech officials in 
charge of the imperial train that had brought Franz Ferdinand - 
from Berlin after a visit to the German Emperor reported to 
the chief of the Czech separatist party that when Franz Ferdi- 



nand had alight^ at his destination they found the upholstery 
in his compartment cut to pieces by sword thrusts ; and in a visit 
to England he struck those who met him as undisciplined in a 
way differing in quality and degree from the normal abnormality 
which comes from high rank. 

This woman had therefore a host of enemies without her 
home, and within it an enemy more terrifying than all the rest. 
That she was in great distress is proven by a certain difficulty 
we know to have arisen in her religious life. It was one of the 
wise provisions of the Early Church that the orthodox were not 
allowed the benefits of communion or confession except at rare 
intervals. There is obviously a sound and sensible reason for 
this rule. It cannot be believed that the soul is sufficiently 
potent to be for ever consummating its union with God, and the 
forgiveness of sins must lose its reality if it is sought too rapidly 
for judgment to pronounce soberly on guilt. Moreover limiting 
the approach to the sacraments prevents them from becoming 
magical practices, mere snatchings at amulets. By one of the 
innovations which divide the Roman Catholic Church from the 
Early Church, Pope Leo X removed all these restrictions, and 
now a devotee can communicate and confess as often as he likes. 
But the Countess Sophie Chotek availed herself of this per- 
mission so extremely often that she was constantly at odds with 
the Bishop who guided her spiritual life. At their hotel out at 
Ilidzhe a room had been arranged as a chapel, and that morning 
she and her husband had attended Mass. Not one day could go 
without invoking the protection of the Cross against the disaster 
which she finally provoked by her proposal that they should 
visit the wounded aide-de-camp in hospital. 

There was a conversation about this proposal which can 
never be understood. It would be comprehensible only if the 
speakers had been drunk or living through a long fevered night ; 
but they were sober and, though they were facing horror, they 
were facing it at ten o’clock on a June morning. Franz Ferdi- 
nand actually asked Potiorek if he thought any bombs would 
be thrown at them during their drive away from the Town Hall. 
This question is incredibly imbecile. If Potiorek had not known 
enough to regard the first attack as probable, there was no reason 
to ascribe any value whatsoever to his opinion on the probability 
of a second attack. There was one obvious suggestion which 
it would have been natural for either Franz Ferdinand or 

3S6 black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

Potiorek to make. The streets were quite inadequately guarded, 
otherwise Chabrinovitch could not have made his attack. 
Therefore it was advisable that Franz Ferdinand and his wife 
should remain at the Town Hall until adequate numbers of the 
seventy thousand troops who were within no great distance of 
the town were sent for to line the streets. This is a plan which 
one would have thought would have been instantly brought to 
the men’s minds by the mere fact that they were responsible for 
the safety of a woman. 

But they never suggested anything like it, and Potiorek gave 
to FranzFerdinand’s astonishing question the astonishing answer 
that he was sure no second attack would be made. The startling 
element in this answer is its imprudence, for he must have known 
that any investigation would bring to light that he had failed to 
take for Franz Ferdinand any of the precautions that had been 
taken for Franz Josef on his visit to Sarajevo seven years before, 
when all strangers had been evacuated from the town, all anti- 
Austrians confined to their houses, and the streets lined with a 
double cordon of troops and peppered with detectives. It would 
be credible only if one knew that Potiorek had received assur- 
ances that if anything happened to Franz Ferdinand there 
would be no investigation afterwards that he need fear. Indeed, 
it would be easy to suspect that Potiorek deliberately sent Franz 
Ferdinand to his death, were it not that it must have looked 
beforehand as if that death must be shared by Potiorek, as they 
were both riding in the same carriage. It is of course true that 
Potiorek shared Conrad’s belief that a war against Serbia was 
a sacred necessity, and had written to him on one occasion 
expressing the desperate opinion that, rather than not have war, 
he would run the risk of provoking a world war and being 
defeated in it ; and throughout the Bosnian manoeuvres he had 
been in the company of Conrad, who was still thoroughly dis- 
gruntled by his dismissal by Franz Ferdinand. It must have 
been quite plain to them both that the assassination of Franz 
Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb would be a superb excuse for 
declaring war on Serbia. Still, it is hard to believe that Potiorek 
would have risked his own life to take Franz Ferdinand’s, for 
he could easily have arranged for the Archduke’s assassination 
when he was walking in the open country. It is also extremely 
doubtful if any conspirators would have consented to Potiorek 
risking his life, for his influence and military skill would have 



been too useful to them to throw away. 

Yet there is an incident arising out of this conversation 
which can only be explained by the existence of entirely relent- 
less treachery somewhere among Franz Ferdinand’s entourage. 
It was agreed that the royal party should, on leaving the Town 
Hall, follow the route that had been originally announced for 
only a few hundred yards ; they would drive along the quay 
to the second bridge, and would then follow a new route by 
keeping straight along the quay to the hospital, instead of turning 
to the right and going up a side street which led to the principal 
shopping centre of the town. This had the prime advantage of 
disappointing any other conspirators who might be waiting in 
the crowds, after any but the first few hundred yards of the 
route, and, as Potiorek had also promised that the automobiles 
should travel at a faster speed, it might have been thought that 
the Archduke and his wife had a reasonable chance of getting 
out of Sarajevo alive. So they might, if anybody had given 
orders to the chauffeur on either of these points. But either 
Potiorek never gave these orders to any subordinate, or the 
subordinate to whom he entrusted them never handed them on. 

Neither hypothesis is easy to accept. Even allowing for 
Austrian Seklamperei, soldiers and persons in attendance on 
royalty do not make such mistakes. But though this negligence 
cannot have been accidental, the part it played in contriving the 
death of Franz Ferdinand cannot have been foreseen. The 
Archduke, his wife, and Potiorek left the Town Hall, taking no 
farewell whatsoever of the municipal officers who lined the stair- 
case, and went on to the quay and got into their automobile. 
Franz Ferdinand and Sophie are said to have looked stunned and 
stiff with apprehension. Count Harrach, an Austrian general, 
jumped on the left running-board and crouched there with 
drawn sword, ready to defend the royal pair with his life. The' 
procession was headed by an automobile containing the Deputy 
Mayor and a member of the Bosnian Diet ; but by another 
incredible blunder neither these officials nor their chauffeurs 
were informed of the change in route. When this first auto- 
mobile came to the bridge it turned to the right and went up' 
the side street. The chauffeur of the royal car saw this and was 
therefore utterly bewildered when Potiorek struck him on the 
shoulder and shouted, " What arc you doing ? We’re going 
the wrong way I We must drive straight along the quay.” 

VOL. 1 2A 


Not having been told how supremely important it was to 
keep going, the puzzled chauffeur stopped dead athwart the 
comer of the side street and the quay. He came to halt exactly 
in front of a young Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip, who 
was one of the members of the same conspiracy as Chabrino* 
vitch. He had failed to draw his revolver on the Archduke 
during the journey to the Town Hall, and he had come back 
to make another attempt. As the automobile remained stock- 
still Princip was able to take steady aim and shoot Franz 
Ferdinand in the heart. He was not a very good shot, he could 
never have brought down his quarry if there had not been this 
failure to give the chauffeur proper instructions. Harrach could 
do nothing ; he was on the left side of the car, Princip on the 
right. When he saw the stout, stuffed body of the Archduke 
fall forward he shifted his revolver to take aim at Potiorek. He 
would have killed him at once had not Sophie thrown herself 
across the car in one last expression of her great love, and 
drawn Franz Ferdinand to herself with a movement that brought 
her across the path of the second bullet. She was already dead 
when Franz Ferdinand murmured to her, " Sophie, Sophie, live 
for our children " ; and he died a quarter of an hour later. So 
was your life and my life mortally wounded, but so was not the 
life of the Bosnians, who were indeed restored to life by this act 
of death. 

Leaning from the balcony, I said, '' I shall never be able to 
understand how it happened.” It is not that there are too few 
facts available, but that there are too many. To begin with, 
only one murder was committed, yet there were two murders 
in the story ; one was the murder done by Princip, the other 
was the murder dreamed of by some person or persons in 
Franz Ferdinand’s entourage, and they were not the same. And 
the character of the event is not stamped with murder but with 
suicide. Nobody worked to ensure the murder on either side 
so hard as the people who were murdered. And they, though 
murdered, are not as pitiable as victims should be. They 
manifested a mixture of obstinate invocation of disaster and 
anguished complaint against it which is often associated with 
unsuccessful crime, with the petty thief in the dock. Yet they 
were of their time. They could not be blamed for morbidity in 
a society which adored death, which found joy in contemplating 
the death of beasts, the death of souls in a rigid social system. 



the death of peoples under an oppressive empire. 

" Many things happened that day,” said the head of the 
tourist bureau, ” but most clearly 1 remember the funny thin 
voice of the Archduke and his marionette strut.” I looked 
down on the street below and saw one who was not as the 
Archduke, a tall gaunt man from the mountains with his crimson 
scarf about his head, walking with a long stride that was the 
sober dance of strength itself. 1 said to Constantine, ” Did 
that sort of man have anything to do with the assassination ? " 
“ Directly, nothing at all,” answered Constantine, “ though 
indirectly he had everything to do with it. But in fact all of 
the actual conspirators were peculiarly of Sarajevo, a local 
product. You will understand better when I have shown you 
where it all happened. But now we must go back to the tourist 
bureau, for we cannot leave this gentleman until we have drunk 
black coffee with him." 

As we walked out of the Town Hall the sunshine was at 
last warm and the plum blossom in the distant gardens shone 
as if it were not still wet with melted snow. ” Though the hills 
rise so sharply,” I said, ” the contours are so soft, to be in this 
city is like walking inside an opening flower.” " Everything 
here is perfect,” said Constantine ; “ and think of it, only since 
I was a grown man has this been my town. Until then its 
beauty was a heartache and a shame to me, because I was a 
Serb and Sarajevo was a Slav town in captivity.” " Come 
now, come now," I said, “ by that same reckoning should not 
the beauty of New York and Boston be a heartache and shame 
to me ? ” " Not at all, not at all,” he said, " for you and the 
Americans jire not the same people. The air of America is 
utterly different from the air of England, and has made 
Americans even of pure English blood utterly different from 
you, even as the air of Russia, which is not the same as Balkan 
air, has made our Russian brothers not at all as we are. But the 
air of Bosnia is the same as Serbian air, and these people are 
almost the same as us, except that they talk less. Besides, your 
relatives in America are not being governed by another race, 
wholly antipathetic to you both. If the Germans had taken 
the United States and you went over there and saw New England 
villages being governed on Prussian lines, then you would sigh 
that you and the Americans of your race should be together 
again.” " I see that,” I said. I was looking at the great 

36 o black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

toast-coloured barracks which the Austrians set on a ledge 
dominating the town. They seemed to say, “ All is now 
known, we can therefore act without any further discussion ” ; 
a statement idiotic in itself, and more so when addressed to the 
essentially speculative Slav. 

“ All, I tell you,” said Constantine, " that is Austrian in 
Sarajevo is false to us. Look at this embankment we are 
walking upon. It is very nice and straight, but it is nothing 
like the embankment we Yugoslavs, Christian or Moslem, 
would make for a river. We are very fond of Nature as she is, 
and we do not want to hold up a ruler and tell her that she must 
look like that and not stick forward her bosom or back her 
bottom. And look, here is the comer where Princip killed the 
Archduke, and you see how appropriate it was. For the young 
Bosnian came along the little street from the real Sarajevo, 
where all the streets are narrow and many are winding and 
every house belongs to a person, to this esplanade which the 
Austrians build, which is one long line and has big houses that 
look alike, and seeing an Arch-Austrian he made him go away. 
See, there is a tablet on that comer commemorating the deed.” 

I had read much abuse of this tablet as a barbarous record 
of satisfaction in an accomplished crime. Mr. Winston Churchill 
remarks in his book on The Unknown War {The Eastern 
Front) that “ Princip died in prison, and a monument erected 
in recent years by his fellow-countrymen records his infamy 
and their own ”. It is actually a very modest black tablet, not 
more than would be necessary to record the exact spot of the 
assassination for historical purposes, and it is placed so high 
above the street-level that the casual passer-by would not 
remark it. The inscription runs, “ Here, in this historic spot 
Gavrilo Princip was the initiator of liberty, on the day of St. 
Vitus, the 28th of June, 1914 ”. These words seem to me 
remarkable in their restraint, considering the bitter hatred that 
the rule of Austria had aroused in Bosnia. The expression 
" initiator of liberty ” is justified by its literal truth : the Bosnians 
and Herzegovinians were in fact enslaved until the end of the 
war which was provoked by the assassination of the Archduke 
Franz Ferdinand. To be shocked at a candid statement of this 
hardly becomes a subject of any of the Western states who 
connived at the annexation of these territories by Austria. 

One must let the person who wears the shoe know where it 



pinches. It happened that as Constantine and I were looking 
up at the tablet Aere passed by one of the most notable men in 
Yugoslavia, a scholar and a gentleman, known to his peers in 
all the great cities of Europe. He greeted us and nodded up 
at the tablet, “ A bad business that." “ Yes, yes,” said Con- 
stantine warily, for they were political enemies, and he dreaded 
what might come. " We must have no more of such things, 
Constantine,” said the other. “ No, no,” said Constantine. 
” No more assassinations, Constantine,” the other went on. 
“ No, no,” said Constantine. ” And no more Croats shot 
down because they are Croats, Constantine,” rapped out the 
other. "But we never do that,” wailed Constantine; "it is 
only that accidents must happen in the disorder that these 
people provoke ! ” " Well, there must be no more accidents,” 
said his friend. But as he turned to go he looked again at the 
tablet, and his eyes grew sad. " But God forgive us all I ” he 
said. " As for that accident, it had to happen.” 

I said to Constantine, “ Would he have known Princip, do 
you think ? " But Constantine answered, " I think not. He 
was ten years older, and he would only have known a man of 
Princip’s age if their families had been friends, but poor Princip 
had no family of the sort that had such rich friends. He was 
just a poor boy come down from the mountains to get his 
education here in Sarajevo, and he knew nobody but his school- 
fellows.” That, indeed, is a fact which is of great significance 
historically : the youth and obscurity of the Sarajevo con- 
spirators. Princip himself was the grandson of an immigrant 
whose exact origin is unknown, though he was certainly a Slav. 
This stranger appeared in a village on the borders of Bosnia 
and Dalmatia at a time when the Moslems of true Turkish 
stock had been driven out by the Bosnian insurrectionary forces, 
and occupied one of the houses that had been vacated by the 
Turks. There must have been something a little odd about 
this man, for he wore a curious kind of silver jacket with bells 
on it, which struck the villagers as strange and gorgeous, and 
which cannot be identified by the experts as forming part of any 
local costume known in the Balkans. Because of this eccentric 
garment the villagers gave him the nickname of “ Princip ”, 
which means Prince ; and because of that name there sprang 
up after the assassination a preposterous legend that Princip’s 
father was the illegitimate son of the murdered Prince Rudolf. 


He was certainly just a peasant, who married a woman of that 
Homeric people, the Montenegrins, and begot a family in the 
depths of poverty. When Austria came in and seized Bosnia 
after it had been cleared of Turks by the Bosnian rebels, it 
was careful to leave the land tenure system exactly as it had 
been under the Turks, and the Bosnian peasants continued 
on starvation level. Of Princip’s children, one son became 
a postman, and married a Herzegovinian who seems to have 
been a woman most remarkable for strength of character. In 
her barren mountain home she bore nine children, of whom 
six died, it is believed from maladies arising out of under- 
nourishment. The other three sons she filled with an ambition 
to do something in life, and sent them down into the towns to 
get an education and at the same time to earn money to pay 
for it. The first became a doctor, the second a tradesman who 
was chosen at an early age mayor of his town. The third was 
Gavrilo Princip, who started on his journey under two handicaps. 
He was physically fragile, and he entered a world distracted 
with thoughts of revolution and preparations for war. 

The two most oppressive autocracies in Europe were working 
full time to supply themselves and all other European countries 
with the material of revolution. Russia was producing in- 
numerable authors who dealt in revolutionary thought. The 
Austrian Empire was producing innumerable men who were 
capable of any revolutionary act, whether in the interests of 
military tyranny or popular liberty. The Russian influence 
came into Bosnia through several channels, some of them most 
unexpected. For political purposes the Russian imperial family 
maintained a boarding school for girls at the top of the road 
from Kotor, in Tsetinye, the capital of Montenegro, where many 
of the aristocratic families of Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herze- 
govina and even Croatia sent their daughters to be educated. 
As all familiar with the perversity of youth would expect, the 
little dears later put to use the Russian they acquired at that 
institution to read Stepniak, and Kropotkin and Tolstoy. This 
was but a narrow channel, which served only to gain tolerance 
among the wealthier classes for the movement which swept 
through practically the whole of the male youth of the Southern 
Slavs and set them discussing Nihilism, Anarchism and State 
Socialism, and experimenting with the technique of terrorism 
which the advocates of those ideas had developed in Russia. 



In this last and least attractive part of their activities the 
Bosnians show at a disadvantage compared to their Russian 
brothers during the period immediately before the war ; they 
appear more criminal because they were more moral. Among 
the Russian revolutionaries there had been growing perplexity 
and disillusionment ever since 1906, when it was discovered 
that the people’s leader, Father Gapon, owing to the emollient 
effects of a visit to Monte Carlo, had sold himself to the police 
as a spy. In 1909 they received a further shock. It was proved 
that Aseff, the head of the largest and most powerful terrorist 
organisation in Russia, had from the very beginning of his 
career been a police agent, and though he had successfully 
arranged the assassination of Plehve, the Minister of the 
Interior, and the Grand Duke Serge, he had committed the 
first crime partly because he was a Jew and disliked Plehve’s 
anti-Semitism and partly because he wanted to strengthen his 
position in revolutionary circles in order to get a higher salary 
from the police, and he had committed the second to oblige 
persons in court circles who had wanted to get rid of the Grand 
Duke. This made all the sincere revolutionaries realise that their 
ranks were riddled with treachery, and that if they risked their 
lives it was probably to save the bacon of a police spy or further 
palace intrigue. For this reason terrorism was practically ex- 
tinct in Russia for some years before the war. 

But the Southern Slavs were not traitors. It is true that 
there existed numbers, indeed vast numbers, of Croats and 
Serbs and Czechs who attempted to raise funds by selling to 
the Austro-Hungarian Empire forged evidence that their 
respective political parties were conspiring with the Serbian 
Government. But their proceedings were always conducted 
with the utmost publicity, and their forgeries were so clumsy 
as to be recognised as such by the most prejudiced court ; they 
presented telegrams, which were supposed to have been delivered, 
on reception forms instead of transmission forms, and they put 
forward photographs of patriotic societies’ minutes which bore 
evidence that the original documents must have been over 
three-foot-three by thirteen inches : a nice size for reproduction 
but not for a society’s minutes. Neither the officials of the 
Empire nor the Slav nationalists ever took any serious measures 
against these disturbers of the peace, and they seem to have 
had such a privileged position of misdoing as is given in some 


villages to a pilferer, so long as he is sufficiently blatant and 
modest in his exploits, so that he can be frustrated by reasonable 
care, and the community loses not too much when he scores a 

But the real traitor and agent provocateur, who joined in 
revolutionary activities for the purpose of betraying his comrades 
to authority, was rare indeed among the South Slavs, and there- 
fore terrorist organisations could function in confidence. They 
honeycombed the universities and the schools to an extent 
which seems surprising, till one remembers that owing to 
poverty of the inhabitants and the defective system of education 
imposed by the Austrian Empire, the age of the pupils at each 
stage was two or three years above that which would have been 
customary in a Western community. 

The terrorism of these young men was given a new inspira- 
tion in 1912 and 1913 by the Balkan wars in which Serbia beat 
Turkey and Bulgaria. They saw themselves cutting loose from 
the decaying corpse of an empire and uniting with a young and 
triumphant democratic state; and by the multiplication of 
society upon society and patriotic journal upon patriotic journal 
they cultivated the idea of freeing themselves by acts of violence 
directed against their rulers. This, however, did not alter that 
horrible dispensation by which it is provided that those who most 
thirstily desire to go on the stage shall be those who have the least 
talent for acting. The Croats and Serbs are magnificent soldiers ; 
they shoot well and they have hearts like lions. But they are de- 
plorable terrorists. Much more individualist than the Russians, 
the idea of a secret society was more of a toy to them than a 
binding force. They were apt to go on long journeys to meet 
fellow-conspirators for the purpose of discussing an outrage, and 
on the way home to become interested in some other aspect of the 
revolutionary movement, such as Tolstoyan pacifism, and leave 
their bombs in the train. When they maintained their purpose, 
they frequently lost not their courage but their heads at the 
crucial moment, perhaps because the most convenient place for 
such attentats, 'to use the Continental word for a crime directed 
against the representative of a government, was among crowds 
in a town, and the young Slav was not used to crowds. He 
felt, as W. H. Davies put it of himself in urban conditions, " like 
a horse near fire ”. Such considerations do not operate now. 
The Great War hardened the nerves of a generation in the dealing 



out of death, and it trained the following generation with its 
experience plus the aid of all the money and help certain foreign 
nations could give them. The Croats and Macedonians trained 
in Italy and Hungary who killed King Alexander of Yugoslavia 
represented the highest point of expertise in terrorism that man 
has yet attained. 

But in the days before the war the South Slavs were touching 
and ardent amateurs. Typical of them was young Zheraitch, 
a handsome Serb boy from a Herzegovinian village, who decided 
to kill the Emperor Franz Josef when he visited Bosnia and 
Herzegovina in 1910. With that end in mind he followed the 
old man from Sarajevo to Mostar, and from Mostar to Ilidzhe, 
revolver in hand, but never fired a shot. Then he decided to 
kill the Governor of Bosnia, General Vareshanin, who was 
specially abhorrent to the Slavs because he was a renegade 
Croat. He waited on a bridge for the General as he drove to 
open the Diet of Sarajevo. The boy fired five bullets at him, 
which all went wide. He kept the sixth to fire at his own 
forehead. It is said that Geno-al Vareshanin got out of his 
car and walked over to his body and savagely kicked it, a 
gesture which was bitterly remembered among all young South 
Slavs. This poor boy was t)rpical of many of his fellows in 
his failure. In June 1912 another Bosnian tried to kill the 
Ban of Croatia in the streets of Zagreb, and killed two other 
people, but not him. In August 1913 a young Croat tried to 
kill the new Ban of Croatia, but only wounded him. In March 
1914 another young Croat was caught in the Opera House at 
Zagreb just as he was about to shoot the Ban and the Archduke 
Leopold Salvator. And so on, and so on. The Balkan wars 
altered this state of affairs to some extent. A g^at many young 
Bosnians and Herzegovinians either swam across the river Drina 
into Serbia, or slipped past the frontier guards on the Montenegrin 
borders by night, in order to join irregular volunteer bands 
which served as outfmsts for the Serbian Army as it invaded 
Macedonia. All these young men acquired skill and hardihood 
in the use of weapons. But those who stayed at home were 
incurably inefficient as assassins. 

Princip was not among the young Bosnians who had gone 
to the Balkan wars. He had soon become weary of the school 
life of Sarajevo, which was reduced to chaos by the general 
political discontent of the pupils and their particular dis- 


contents with the tehdencious curriculum of the Austro- 
Hungarian education authorities. He took to shutting himself 
up in his poor room and read enormously of philosophy and 
politics, undermining his health and nerves by the severity of 
these undirected studies. Always, of course, he was short of 
money and ate but little. Finally he felt he had better emigrate 
to Serbia and start studies at a secondary school at Belgrade, 
and he took that step in May 1912, when he was barely seventeen. 
One of his brothers gave him some money, and he had saved 
much of what he had earned by teaching some little boys ; 
but it must have been a starveling journey. In Belgrade he was 
extremely happy in his studies, and might have become a 
contented scholar had not the Balkan War broken out. He 
immediately volunteered, and was sent down to a training 
centre in the South of Serbia, and would have made a first-rate 
soldier if gallantly had been all that was needed. But his 
deprived body broke down, and he was discharged from the 

Princip's humiliation was increased to a painful degree, it is 
said, because another soldier with whom he was on bad terms 
grinned when he saw him walking off with his discharge and 
said, “ Siar/ ", throw-out, bad stuff. Though he went back 
to Belgrade and studied hard and with great success, he was 
extremely distressed at his failure to render service to the 
Slav cause and prove his worth as a hero. It happened that in 
Serbia he had become a close friend of a young printer from 
Sarajevo called Chabrinovitch, a boy of his own age, who had 
been banished from Bosnia for five years for the offence of 
preaching anarchism. Much has been written about this youth 
which is not too enthusiastic, though it might be described as 
querulous rather than unfavourable. His companions found 
something disquieting and annoying about his high spirits and 
his garrulity, but it must be remembered that those who are 
very remarkable people, particularly when they are young, 
often repel more ordinary people by both their laughter and 
their grief, which seem excessive by the common measure. It 
is possible that what was odd about Chabrinovitch was simply 
incipient greatness. But he was also labouring under the 
handicap of an extremely hostile relationship to his father. 
In any case he certainly was acceptable as a friend by Princip, 
and this speaks well for his brains. 



They had a number of Sarajevan friends in common, whom 
they had met at school or in the cafds. Among these was a 
young schoolmaster called Danilo Hitch, a neurotic and irascible 
and extremely unpopular ascetic. He is said to have served 
in the Serbian Army during the Balkan War, but only as an 
orderly. From the beginning of 1914 he was engaged in an 
attempt to form a terrorist organisation for the purpose of 
committing a desperate deed, though nobody, least of all him- 
self, seemed to know exactly what. Among his disciples was 
a young man called Pushara, who one day cut out of the news- 
paper a paragraph announcing the intended visit of Franz 
Ferdinand to Bosnia, and posted it from Sarajevo to Chabrino- 
vitch in Belgrade. It is said by some that he meant merely 
to intimate that there would be trouble, not that trouble should 
be made. It is also to be noted that one of his family was said 
to be an Austrian police spy. If he or somebody connected 
with him had been acting as an agettt provocateur they could 
not have hoped for better success. Chabrinovitch showed the 
paragraph to Princip, and they decided to return to Sarajevo 
and kill Franz Ferdinand. 

But they needed help. Most of all they needed weapons. 
First they thought of applying to the Narodna Obrana, the 
Society of National Defence, for bombs, but their own good 
sense told them that was impossible. The Narodna Obrana 
was a respectable society acting openly under Government pro- 
tection, and even these children, confused by misgovernment 
to complete callousness, saw that it would have been asking too 
much to expect it to commit itself to helping in the assassination 
of a foreign royalty. Moreover they both had had experience 
of the personalities directing the Narodna Obrana and they knew 
they were old-fashioned, pious, conservative Serbs of the medieval 
Serbian pattern, who were more than a little shocked by these 
Bosnian children who sat up till all hours in caf6s and dabbled 
in free thought. When Chabrinovitch had gone to the society 
to ask a favour, an old Serbian captain had been gravely 
shocked by finding the lad in possession of Maupassant’s Bel 
Ami and had confiscated it. 

It is unfortunate that at this point they met a Bosnian 
refugee called Tsiganovitch who had heard rumours of their 
intention and who offered to put them in the way of getting 
some bombs. He was a member of the secret society known as 


the " Black Hand ”, or was associated with it. This society 
had already played a sinister part in the history of Serbia. It 
was the lineal descendant of the group of officers who had killed 
King Milan and Queen Draga and thus exchanged the Obreno- 
vitch dynasty for the Karageorgevitch. The Karageorges, 
who had played no part in this conspiracy, and had had to 
accept its results passively, had never resigned themselves to 
the existence of the group, and were continually at odds with 
them. The “ Black Hand ” was therefore definitely anti- 
Karageorgevitch and aimed at war with Austria and the 
establishment of a federated republic of Balkan Slavs. Their 
leader was a man of undoubted talent but far too picturesque 
character called Dragutin Dimitrieyevitch, known as “ Apis ”, 
who had been for some time the head of the Intelligence Bureau 
of the Serbian General Staff. He had heard of Hitch and his 
group through a Bosnian revolutionary living in Lausanne, 
Gachinovitch, a boy of twenty-two who had an extraordinary 
power over all his generation among the South Slavs, particularly 
among the Bosnians ; his posthumous works were edited by 
Trotsky. It was by his direction that Chabrinovitch and Princip 
had been approached by Tsiganovitch, and were later taken in 
hand, together with another Bosnian boy of nineteen called 
Grabezh who had just joined them, by an officer called Tanko- 
sitch, who had been concerned in the murder of King Milan 
and Queen Draga. 

Tankositch took the boys into some woods and saw how they 
shot — which was badly, though Princip was better than the 
others. Finally he fitted them out with bombs, pistols, and some 
prussic acid to take when their attempts had been made, so that 
they might be sure not to break down and blab in the presence 
of the police. Then he sent them off to Sarajevo by what was 
known as the underground route, a route by which persons who 
might have found difficulty in crossing the frontiers, whether 
for reasons of politics or contraband, were helped by friendly 
pro-Slavs. The boys were smuggled through Bosnia by two 
guards who were under orders from the “ Black Hand ”, and 
with the help of a number of Balkan peasants and tradesmen, 
who one and all were exceedingly discomfited but dared not 
refuse assistance to members of a revolutionary body, they got 
their munitions into Sarajevo. 

This journey was completed only by a miracle, such was 



the inefificiency of the conspirators. Chabrinovitch talked too 
much. Several times the people on whose good-will they were 
dependent took fright and were in two minds to denounce the 
matter to the police, and take the risk of revolutionary vengeance 
rather than be hanged for complicity, as indeed some of them 
were. Hitch was even less competent. He had arranged to 
fetch the bombs at a certain railway junction, but he fell into a 
panic and did not keep the appointment. For hours the sugar- 
box containing the weapons lay in the public waiting-room 
covered with a coat. The station cat had a comfortable sleep 
on it. Unfortunately Hitch recovered his nerve and brought 
the bombs to his home, where he kept them under the sofa in 
his bedroom. He had swelled the ranks of those who were to 
use these arms by some most unsuitable additions. He had 
enrolled a Moslem called Mehmedbashitch, a peculiar char- 
acter who had already shown a divided mind towards terrorism. 
In January 1913 he had gone to Toulouse with a Moslem friend 
and had visited the wonderful Gachinovitch, the friend of 
Trotsky. He had received from the leader weapons and poison 
for the purpose of attempting the life of General Potiorek, the 
military governor of Bosnia, but on the way he and his friend 
had thought better of it and dropped them out of the carriage 
window. Hitch had also enrolled two schoolboys called Chu- 
brilovitch and Popovitch, and gave them revolvers. Neither had 
ever fired a shot in his life. The few days before the visit of the 
Archduke Hitch spent in alternately exhorting this ill-assorted 
group to show their patriotism by association and imploring 
them to forget it and disperse. He was himself at one point so 
overcome by terror that he got into the train and travelled all the 
way to the town of Brod, a hundred miles away. But he came 
back, though to the very end he seems at times to have urged 
Princip, who was living with him, to abandon the attentat, and 
to have expressed grave distrust of Chabrinovitch on the ground 
that his temperament was not suited to terrorism. It might have 
been supposed that Franz Ferdinand would never be more safe 
in his life than he would be on St. Vitus’ Day at Sarajevo. 

That very nearly came to be true. On the great day Hitch 
made up his mind that the assassination should take place 
after all, and he gave orders for the disposition of the con- 
spirators in the street. They were so naive that it does not 
seem to have struck them as odd that he himself proposed to 


take no part in the attentat. They were told to take up their 
stations at various points on the embankment : first Mehmed- 
bashitch, then Chabrinovitch, then Chubrilovitch, then Popo- 
vitch, and after that Princip, at the head of the bridge that now 
bears his name, with Grabezh lacing him across the road. What 
happened might easily have been foretold. Mehmedbashitch 
never threw his bomb. Instead he watched the car go by 
and then ran to the railway station and jumped into a train 
that was leaving for Montenegro ; there he sought the protec- 
tion of one of the tribes which constituted that nation, with 
whom his family had friendly connections, and the tribesmen 
kept him hidden in their mountain homes. Later he made his 
way to France, and that was not to be the end of his adventures. 
He was to be known to Balkan history as a figure hardly less 
enigmatic than the Man in the Iron Mask. The schoolboy 
Chubrilovitch had been told that if Mehmedbashitch threw his 
bomb he was to finish off the work with his revolver, but if 
Mehmedbashitch failed he was to throw his own bomb. He 
did nothing. Neither did the other schoolboy, Popovitch. It 
was impossible for him to use either his bomb or his revolver, 
for in his excitement he had taken his stand beside a policeman. 
Chabrinovitch threw his bomb, but high and wide. He then 
swallowed his dose of prussic acid and jumped off the parapet 
of the embankment. There, as the prussic acid had no effect 
on him, he suffered arrest by the police. Princip heard the noise 
of Chabrinovitch’s bomb and thought the work was done, so 
stood still. When the car went by and he saw that the royal 
pcirty was still alive, he was dazed with astonishment and walked 
away to a cafi, where he sat down and had a cup of coffee and 
pulled himself together. Grabezh was also deceived by the 
explosion and let his opportunity go by. Franz Ferdinand 
would have gone from Sarajevo untouched had it not been for 
the actions of his staff, who by blunder after blunder contrived 
that his car should slow down and that he should be presented 
as a stationary target in front of Princip, the one conspirator 
of real and mature deliberation, who had finished his cup of 
coffee and was walking back through the streets, aghast at the 
failure of himself and his friends, which would expose the 
country to terrible punishment without having inflicted any loss 
on authority. At last the bullets had been coaxed out of the 
reluctant revolver to the bodies of the eager victims. 



Saregevo VI 

" Do you see,” said Constantine, “ the last folly of these 
idiots ? ” There is a raw edge to the ends of the bridge, an 
unhemmed look to the masonry on both sides of the road. 
“ They put up a statue of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and 
his wife, not in Vienna, where there was a good deal of expiation 
to be done to those two, but here, where the most pitiful amongst 
us could not pity them. As soon as we took the town over 
after the liberation they were carted away." They may still 
be standing in some backyard, intact or cut into queer sculptural 
joints, cast down among ironically long grass. There was 
never more convincing proof that we do not make our own 
destinies, that they are not merely the pattern traced by our 
characteristics on time as we rush through it, than the way 
that the destinies of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek 
continued to operate after their death. In their lives they had 
passed from situation to situation which invited ceremonial 
grandeur and had been insanely deprived of it in a gross 
ceremonial setting, and it was so when they were in their coffins. 
They were sent to Vienna, to what might have been hoped was 
the pure cold cancellation of the tomb. They were, however, 
immediately caught up and whirled about in a stately and 
complicated vortex of contumely and hatred that astonished 
the whole world, even their world, accustomed as it was to 

The Emperor Franz Josef cannot be blamed for the insolence 
which was wreaked on the coffins on their arrival in Vienna. A 
man of eighty-seven whose wife had been assassinated, whose 
son was either murdered or was a murderer and suicide, cannot 
be imagined to be other than shattered when he hears of the 
assassination of his heir and nephew, who was also his enemy, 
and his wife, who was a shame to his family The occasion 
drew from Franz Josef a superb blasphemy ; when he heard 
the news the thought of the morganatic marriage came first to 
his mind, and he said that God had corrected a wrong which 
he had been powerless to alter. But the guilt of the funeral 
arrangements at Vienna must rest on Prince Montenuovo, the 
Emperor’s Chamberlain, who had tormented Franz Ferdinand 
and Sophie Chotek in his life by the use of etiquette, and found 


that by the same weapon he could pursue them after their death. 

Nothing but actual insanity can explain Prince Montenuovo’s 
perversion of the funeral arrangements. He was not only a 
cultured man, he had shown himself at times humane and 
courageous. In March 1913 he had acted for Franz Josef in 
his resistance to Conrad’s attempt to drag Austria into an 
unprovoked war with Serbia and Montenegro, and he had 
performed his duties with great tact and sense and principle. 
It would have been supposed that such a man, on finding himself 
charged with the duty of consigning to the grave the bodies of a 
husband and wife with whom he had been on contentious terms 
for many years, would feel compelled to a special decorum. 
Instead he could find no impropriety too wild for any part of 
the ceremony. 

He arranged that the train which brought the bodies home 
should be delayed so that it arrived at night. It came in horribly 
spattered by the blood of a railwayman who had been ..killed 
at a level crossing. Montenuovo had two initial reverses. He 
prescribed that the new heir, the Archduke Charles, should 
not meet the train, but the young man insisted on doing so. 
He tried also to prevent Sophie Chotek’s coffin from lying 
beside her husband’s in the Royal Chapel during the funeral 
mass, but to that Franz Josef would not consent. But he had 
several successes. Sophie’s coffin was placed on a lower level 
to signify her lower rank. The full insignia of the Archduke 
lay on his coffin, on hers wa-e placed the white gloves and 
black fan of the former lady-in-waiting. No wreath was sent 
by any member of the imperial family except Stephanie, the 
widow of the Crown Prince Rudolf, who had long been on 
atrocious terms with her relatives. The only flowers were a 
cross of white roses sent by the dead couple’s two children 
and some wreaths sent by foreign sovereigns. The Emperor 
Franz Josef attended the service, but immediately afterwards 
the chapel was closed, in order that the public should have no 
opportunity to pay their respects to the dead. 

Montenuovo attempted to separate the two in their graves. 
He proposed that Franz Ferdinand should be laid in the Haps- 
burg tomb in the Capucine Church, while his wife’s body was 
sent to the chapel in their castle at Arstetten on the Danube. 
But to guard against this Franz Ferdinand had left directions 
that he too was to be buried at Arstetten. Montenuovo bowed 



to this decision, but announced that his responsibility would end 
when he had left the coffins at the West Terminus station. The 
municipal undertaker had to make all arrangements for putting 
them on the train for Pochlarn, which was the station for Arstetten, 
and getting them across the Danube to the castle. But Monte- 
nuovo provided that their task was made difficult by holding 
back the procession from the chapel till late at night. As a 
protest a hundred members of the highest Hungarian and 
Austrian nobility appeared in the costumes that would have 
been the proper wear at an imperial funeral, thrust themselves 
into the procession, and walked on foot to the station. 

The coffins and the mourners travelled on a train that de- 
livered them at Pochlarn at one o’clock in the morning. They 
found that the station had not been prepared for the occasion, 
there were no crape hangings or red carpets. This was extremely 
shocking to a people obsessed with etiquette and pomp. But 
they soon had more solid reasons for resentment. The moment 
when the coffins were laid on the platform was the signal for a 
blinding and deafening and drenching thunderstorm. The 
disadvantages of a nocturnal funeral became apparent. Nobody 
in charge of the proceedings knew the village, so the mourners 
could not find their way to shelter and had to pack into the little 
station, impeding the actual business of the funeral. It had been 
proposed to take the coffins to a neighbouring church for a 
further part of the religious services, but the hearses could not be 
loaded in the heavy rain, and indeed the mourners would not have 
known where to follow them in the darkness. So the bewildered 
priests consecrated the coffins in the crowded little waiting-room 
among the time-tables and advertisements of seaside resorts. 
At last the rain stopped, and a start was made for the castle. 
But there was still much thunder and lightning, and the sixteen 
horses that drew the hearses were constantly getting out of 
control. It was dawn when the cavalcade was brought safely to a 
quay on the Danube, and in the quietness the horses were coaxed 
on to the ferry-boat by attendants who had water running down 
round their feet in streams from their sodden clothing. The 
mourners, left on the bank to wait their turn, watched the boat 
with thankfulness. But when it was in the middle of the stream 
there was a last flash of lightning, a last drum-roll of thunder. 
The left pole-horse in front of the Archduke's hearse reared, 
and the back wheels slipped over the edge of the ferry-boat. 


Till it reached the other side it was a shambles of terrified horses, 
of men who could hardly muster the strength to cling to the 
harness, and cried out in fatigue and horror as they struggled, of 
coffins slipping to the water's edge. 

It is strange that it was this scene which made it quite certain 
that the Sarajevo attentat should be followed by a European war. 
The funeral was witnessed by a great many soldiers and officials 
and men of influence, and their reaction was excited and not 
logical. If Franz Ferdinand had been quietly laid to rest accord- 
ing to the custom of his people, many Austrians would have felt 
sober pity for him for a day, and then remembered his many 
faults. They would surely have reflected that he had brought 
his doom on himself by the tactlessness and aggressiveness of his 
visit to the Serbian frontier at the time of a Serbian festival ; 
and they might also have reflected that those qualities were 
characteristic not only of him but of his family. The proper sequel 
to the Walpurgisnacht obsequies of Franz Ferdinand would 
have been the dismissal of Prince Montenuovo, the drastic 
revision of the Austrian constitution and reduction of the in- 
fluence wielded by the Hapsburgs and their court, and an 
attempt at the moral rehabilitation of Vienna. But to take any 
of these steps Austria would have had to look in the mirror. 
She preferred instead to whip herself into a fury of loyalty to 
Franz Ferdinand’s memory. It was only remembered that he 
was the enemy of Franz Josef, who had now shown himself 
sacrilegious to a corpse who, being a Hapsburg, must have been 
as sacred as an emperor who was sacred because he was a Haps- 
burg. It was felt that if Franz Ferdinand had been at odds 
with this old man and his court he had probably been right. 
Enthusiasm flamed up for the men who had been chosen by 
Franz Ferdinand, for Conrad von Hdtzendorf and Berchthold, 
and for the policy of imperialist aggression that they had jointly 
engendered. Again the corpse was outraged ; he could not 
speak from the grave to say that he had cancelled those prefer- 
ences, to protest when these men he had repudiated put for- 
ward the policy he had abandoned and pressed it on the plea of 
avenging his death. The whole of Vienna demanded that the 
pacifism of Franz Josef should be flouted as an old man’s folly 
and that Austria should declare war upon Serbia. 

The excuse for this declaration of war was the allegation that 
the conspirators had been suborned to kill Franz Ferdinand by 



the Serbian Government. During the last twenty years, in the 
mood of lazy and cynical self-oiticism which has afflicted the 
powers thiit were apparently victorious in 1918, it has been often 
pretended that there were grounds for that allegation. It has 
been definitely stated in many articles and books that the Serbian 
Government was aware of the murderous intentions of Princip, 
Chabrinovitch and Grabezh, and itself supplied them with 
bombs and revolvers and sent them back to Bosnia. Some- 
times it is suggested that the Russian Government joined with 
the Serbian Government to commit this crime. 

Not one scrap of evidence exists in support of these allega- 

One of the most celebrated contemporary writers on European 
affairs sets down in black and white the complicity of the Serbian 
and Russian Governments. I have asked him for his authority. 
He has none. A famous modern English historian, not pro- 
Serb, tells me that ever since the war he has been looking for 
some proof of the guilt of Serbia, and has never found it, or any 
indication that it is to be found. 

It is clear, and nothing could be clearer, that certain Serbian 
individuals supplied the conspirators with encouragement and 
arms. But this does not mean that the Serbian Government was 
responsible. If certain Irishmen, quite unconnected with Mr. 
De Valera, should supply Irish Americans with bombs for the 
purpose of killing President Roosevelt, and he died, the United 
States would not therefore declare war on Eire. A connection 
between the Irishmen and their Government would have to 
be established before a eastfs belli would be recognised. But 
no link whatsoever has been discovered between the Serbian 
Government and Tsiganovitch and Tankositch, the obscure 
individuals who had given Princip and Chabrinovitch and 
Grabezh their bombs. They were, indeed, members of the “ Black 
Hand ", the secret society which was savagely hostile both to the 
Karageorge dynasty and the political party then in power. That 
this hostility was not a fiction is shown by the precautions taken 
against discovery by the Serbian sentries who helped the con- 
spirators over the frontier. 

There are only two reasons which would give ground for 
suspicion of the Serbian Government. The first is the marks on 
the bombs, which showed definitely that they had been issued 
by the Serbian State Arsenal at Kraguyevats. That looks 


damning, but means nothing. Bombs were distributed in large 
numbers both to the comitadji and regular troops during the 
Balkan War, and many soldiers put them by as likely to come 
in handy in the rough-and-tumble of civil life. A search through 
the outhouses of many a Serbian farm would disclose a store of 
them. Tankositch would have had no difficulty in acquiring as 
many as he liked, without any need for application to the authori- 
ties. The other suspicious circumstance is the refusal of several 
Serbian officials to disclaim responsibility for the crime, and the 
assumption by others of a certain foreknowledge of the crime 
which was first cousin to actual responsibility for it. This can 
be discounted in view of the peculiar atmosphere of Balkan 
politics. A century ago no political leader could come forward 
among the Slavs unless he had distinguished himself in guerilla 
warfare against the Turks, warfare which often involved what 
would be hard to tell from assassination. For this reason politi- 
cians of peasant origin, bred in the full Balkan tradition, such as 
the Serbian Prime Minister, Mr. Pashitch, could not feel the same 
embarrassment at being suspected of complicity in the murder 
of a national enemy that would have been felt by his English 
contemporaries, say Mr. Balfour or Mr. Asquith. After all, an 
Irish politician would not find a very pressing need to exculpate 
himself from a charge of having been concerned in the murder 
of Sir Henry Wilson, so far as the good-will of his constituents 
was concerned. But no hint of any actual meeting or corre- 
spondence by which Mr. Pashitch established any contact, 
however remote, with the conspirators has ever been given ; 
and as any such contact would have involved a reconciliation 
with those who before and after were his enemies, there must 
have been go-betweens, but these, in spite of the loquacity of the 
race, have never declared themselves. There was a Mr. Liuba 
Yovanovitch, Minister of Education under Mr. Pashitch, who 
could not stop writing articles in which he boasted that he and 
his friends in Belgrade had known for weeks ahead that the 
conspiracy was hatching in Sarajevo. But unkind researchers 
have discovered that seven years before he put in exactly the 
same claim concerning the murder of King Alexander and 
Queen Draga, and that members of that conspiracy had indig- 
nantly brought forward proof that they had nothing to do with 
him. Mr. Yovanovitch, in fact, was the Balkan equivalent of the 
sort of Englishman who wears an Old Etonian tie without cause. 



On the other hand there were overwhelming reasons why the 
Serbian Government should not have supported this or any 
other conspiracy. It cannot have wanted war at that particular 
moment. The Karageorges must have been especially anxious 
to avoid it. King Peter had just been obliged by chronic ill-health 
to appoint his son Alexander as his regent and it had not 
escaped the attention of the Republican Party that the King had 
had to pass over his eldest son, George, because he was hope- 
lessly insane. Mr. Pashitch and his Government can hardly 
have been more anxious for a war, as their machine was tem- 
porarily disorganised by preparations for a general election. 
Both alike, the Royal Family and the Ministers, held disquieting 
knowledge about the Serbian military situation. Their country 
had emerged from the two Balkan wars victorious but exhausted, 
without money, transport or munitions, and with a peasant 
army that was thoroughly sick of fighting. They can have 
known no facts to offset those, for none existed. Theoretically 
they could only rely on the support of France and Russia, and 
possibly Great Britain, but obviously geography would forbid 
any of these powers giving her practical aid in the case of an 
Austrian invasion. 

In fact, the Karageorges and the Government knew per- 
fectly well that, if there should be war, they must look forward 
to an immediate defeat of the most painful sort, for which they 
could only receive compensation should their allies, whoever they 
might be, at some uncertain time win a definite victory. But if 
there should be peace, then the Karageorges and the Government 
could consolidate the victories they had won in the Balkan 
wars, develop their conquered territory, and organise their 
neglected resources. Admittedly Serbia aimed at the ultimate 
absorption of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the 
South Slav provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But this 
was not the suitable moment. If she attained her aims by this 
method she would have to pay too heavy a price, as, in fact, she 
did. No country would choose to realise any ideal at the cost of 
the destruction of one-third of her population. That she did not 
so choose is shown by much negative evidence. At the time the 
murder was committed she had just let her reservists return 
home after their annual training, her Commander-in- Chief was 
taking a cure at an Austrian spa, and none of the Austrian 
Slavs who had fought in the Balkan War and returned home 


were warned to come across the frontier. But the positive 
evidence is even stronger. When Austria sent her ultimatum to 
Serbia, which curtly demanded not only the punishment of the 
Serbians who were connected with the Sarajevo attentat, but 
the installation of Austrian and Hungarian officers in Serbia for 
the purpose of suppressing Pan-Slavism, Mr. Pashitch bowed to 
all the demands save for a few gross details, and begged that the 
exceptions he had made should not be treated as refusals but 
should be referred for arbitration to The Hague Tribunal. There 
was not one trace of bellicosity in the attitude of Serbia at this 
point. If she had promoted the Sarajevo attentat in order to 
make war possible, she was very near to throwing her advantage 

The innocence of the Serbian Government must be admitted 
by all but the most prejudiced. But guilt lies very heavy on the 
" Black Hand ”. There is, however, yet another twist in the 
story here. It seems fairly certain that that guilt was not sus- 
tained of full intent. We may doubt that when " Apis ” sent 
these young men to Bosnia he believed for one moment that they 
would succeed in their plan of killing Franz Ferdinand. He was 
just as well aware as the authorities of the military and economic 
difficulties of his country, and probably wanted war as little as 
they did. But even if he had been of another mind he would 
hardly have chosen such agents. The conspirators, when they 
first attracted his attention, numbered only two weakly boys 
of nineteen, Princip and Chabrinovitch. He had learned that 
their only revolutionary connections in Sarajevo were through 
Hitch ; and as this information came from Gachinovitch, the 
exile who knew everything about the unrest in Bosnia, he must 
have learned at the same time how inexperienced in terrorism 
Hitch was. " Apis " must also have known from his officers 
that Princip was only a fair shot, and that Chabrinovitch and 
the third boy who joined them later, Grabezh, could not hit a 
wall. He must have realised that in such inexpert hands the 
revolvers would be nearly useless, and the bombs would be no 
better, for they were not the sort used by the Russian terrorists, 
which exploded at contact, but the kind used in trench warfare, 
which had to be hit against a hard object before they were thrown, 
and then took some seconds to go off. They were extremely 
difficult to throw in a crowd ; any soldier could have guessed 
that Chabrinovitch would neva- be able to aim one straight. 



Yet " Apis ’* could have got any munitions that he wanted 
by taking a little trouble, and, what is more, he could have got 
any number of patriotic Bosnians who had been through the 
Balkan wars and could shoot and throw bombs with profes- 
sional skill. I myself know a Herzegovinian, a remarkable shot 
and a seasoned soldier, who placed himself at the disposition 
of the " Black Hand ’’ to assassinate any oppressor of ^e Slav 
people. " Dans ces jours-li,” he says, " nous dtions tous fous.” 
His offer was never accepted. It is to be wondered whether 
" Apis " was quite the character his contemporaries believed. 
Much is made of his thirst for blood, and he was certainly in- 
volved, though not in any major capacity, in the murder of 
King Alexander and Queen Draga. But the rest of his reputa- 
tion is based on his self-confessed participation in plots to 
murder King Nicholas of Montenegro, King Constantine of 
Greece, the last German Kaiser, and King Ferdinand of Bulgaria. 
The first three of these monarchs, however, died in their beds, 
and the last one is still with us. It is possible that “ Apis ” 
was obsessed by a fantasy of bloodshed and treachery, which he 
shrank from translating into fact, partly out of a poetic preference 
for fantasy over fact, partly out of a very sensible regard for 
his own skin. 

There is, indeed, one circumstance which tells us that the 
“ Black Hand ” took Princip and his friends very lightly indeed. 
Over and over again we read in the records of these times about 
boys who took out revolvers or bombs with the intention of 
killing this or that instrument of Austrian tyranny, but lost 
heart and returned home without incident. There must have 
been many more such abortive attempts than are recorded. 
The “ Black Hand ” was the natural body to which such boys 
would turn with a request for arms ; it would be interesting to 
know how often they had handed out munitions which had 
never been used. Repetition had, it seems, bred carelessness 
in classification. For when Princip and Chabrinovitch took 
the prussic acid which Tsiganovitch and Tankositch had given 
them, it had no effect on either. It is said vaguely that it 
had '* gone bad ”, but prussic acid is not subject to any such 
misfortune. In the only form which is easy to obtain it does 
not even evaporate quickly. What Tsiganovitch and Tan- 
kositch had given the boys was plain water, or something 
equally innocuous. They would not have made this substitution 

38 o black lamb AND GREY FALCON 

if they had believed in the effectiveness of the conspiracy. They 
must have known that if the boys succeeded and were tortured 
and talked they would have reason for the gravest fears; 
which, indeed, were realised. “ Apis ” was executed by the 
Serbian Government three years later, after a mysterious trial 
which is one of the most baffling incidents in Balkan history ; 
nothing is clear about it save that the real offence for which he 
was punished was his connection with the Sarajevo attentat. 
Tankositch and Tsiganovitch also paid a heavy price in their 
obscurer way. 

Only one person involved in this business did what he meant 
to do : Princip believed he ought to kill Franz Ferdinand, and 
he shot him dead. But everybody else acted contrary to his own 
will. The dead pair, who had dreamed of empire stretching 
from the Baltic to the Black Sea, surrendered the small primary 
power to breathe. If the generals about them had had any hope 
of procuring victory and the rule of the sword they were to fail 
to the extraordinary degree of annihilating not only their own 
army but their own nation. The conspirators wanted to throw 
their bombs, and could not. Hitch, whose flesh quailed at the 
conspirator’s lot, was compelled to it by the values of his society, 
distracted as it was by oppression. In Vienna Montenuovo 
raised a defence of criminal insolence round the sacred Haps- 
burg stock, and uprooted it from Austrian soil, to lie on the 
rubbish-heap of exile. There was an exquisite appropriateness 
in this common fate which fell on all those connected with the 
events of that St. Vitus’ Day ; for those who are victims of 
what is known as St. Vitus’ disease suffer an uncontrollable 
disposition to involuntary motions. 

Sarajevo VII 

“ You must come up to the Orthodox cemetery and see the 
graves of these poor boys,” said Constantine. " It is very 
touching, for a reason that will appear when you see it.” Two 
days later we made this expedition, with the judge and the 
banker to guide us. But Constantine could not keep back his 
dramatic climax until we got there. He felt he had to tell us 
when we had driven only half-way up the hillside. " What is 
so terrible,” he said, " is that they are there in that grave, the 



poor little ones, Princip, Chabrinovitch, Grabezh and three 
other little ones who were taken with them. They could not 
be hanged, the law forbade it. Nobody could be hanged in the 
Austrian Empire under twenty-one. Yet I tell you they are all 
there, and they certainly did not have time to die of old age, 
for they were all dead before the end of the war.” 

This, indeed, is the worst part of the story. It explains why 
it has been difficult to establish humane penal methods in 
countries which formed part of the Austrian Empire, and why 
minor officials in those succession states often take it for granted 
that violence is a part of the technique of administration. The 
sequel to the attentat shows how little Bosnians had to con- 
gratulate themselves for exchanging Austrian domination for 

When the Serbian prussic acid failed, both Princip and 
Chabrinovitch made other attempts at suicide which were 
frustrated. Princip put his revolver to his temple, and had it 
snatched away by a busybody. Chabrinovitch jumped into the 
river and was fished out by the police. He made at that point 
a remark which has drawn on him much heavy-footed derision 
from German writers owing to a misunderstanding over a Serb 
word. A policeman who arrested him said in his evidence at the 
trial, " I hit him with my fist, and I said, ‘ Why don’t you come 
on ? You are a Serb, aren't you ? ’ " He said that Chabrino- 
vitch answered him in a phrase that has been too literally trans- 
lated, “ Yes, I am a Serbian hero ”. This has been taken by 
foreign commentators as proof of Chabrinovitch’s exalted folly 
and the inflamed character of Serbian nationalism. But the 
word " Yunak ” has a primary meaning of hero and a secondary 
meaning of militant nationalist. The words the policeman 
intended to put into Chabrinovitch’s mouth were simply, " Yes, 
I am a Serbian nationalist ”, so that he could say that he had 
then asked, “ Where did you get your gun ? ” and that he had 
been answered, “ From our society ”. Chabrinovitch gave a 
convincing denial that the conversation, even in this form, ever 
took place. Thus is the face of history thickly veiled. 

The two youths, beaten to unconsciousness, were taken to 
prison ; which on the morrow of St. Vitus' Day was as good a 
place to be as any in Sarajevo. For there broke out an anti- 
Slav riot, which in its first impulse destroyed the best hotel 
in Sarajevo and the office of a Serb newspaper, and the next 


day merged into an organised pogrom of the Serb inhabitants 
of Sarajevo. There was, of course, some spontaneous feeling 
against them. Many Moslems grieved over the loss of their 
protector, and a number of devoutly Catholic Croats regretted 
their co-religionist for his piety ; it is known that some of these, 
notably a few Croat clerical students, joined in the rioting. But 
General Potiorek had had to contrive the rest. The bulk of the 
demonstrators consisted of very poor Catholics, Jews and Mos- 
lems, many of whom had come to town to work in the new 
factories and had fallen into a pitiful slough of misery. Those 
unhappy wretches were told by police agents that if they wanted 
to burn and loot authority would hold its hand, and, more than 
that, that they had better burn and loot good and hard, lest a 
misfortune should fall on the town. 

This warning was more heavily impressed on the people by 
the thousands of troops that had been brought into the town 
now that Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek were dead and 
beyond need of protection. There were enough of them to line 
three-deep the long route by which the coffins passed from the 
Cathedral to the railway station. Many of them were Croat 
and Austrian, and afterwards they walked about with fixed 
bayonets, singing anti-Serb songs. They did not interfere with 
the rioters. Rather were they apt to deal harshly with those 
who were not taking a sufficiently active part in the riot. It 
was doubtless easy to take the hint and enjoy the license. 
Human nature is not very nice. 

But the full blame for the riot cannot be laid on these helpless 
victims of coercion. The leading Serb in Sarajevo owned a 
house, a hotel, a cafd, warehouses and stables, in different parts 
of the town. All were visited, and all were methodically sacked 
from cellar to roof. Street fighters do not work with such 
system. Then those who appeared with pickaxes and slowly 
and conscientiously razed to the foundations houses belonging 
to the Serbs were not stopped by the authorities. In this way 
material damage was inflicted on the town to the amount of 
two hundred thousand pounds. So little was the rioting spon- 
taneous that many Croats and Jews and Moslems risked their 
lives by giving shelter to Serbs ; but so many lives were lost 
that the figures were suppressed. 

Not a single rioter was jailed nor a single official, military 
or civil, degraded for failure to keep order. It is not surprising 



that like riots broke out during the next few days' in every 
provincial town and sizable village where the Croats and 
Moslems outnumbered the Serbs. This is said to have been a 
device of General Potiorek to placate the authorities and dissuade 
them from punishing him for his failure to protect Franz 
Ferdinand. But it is doubtftil if he had any reason to fear 
punishment, for he was promoted immediately afterwards. 
Meantime hundreds of schoolboys and students were thrown 
into prison, and were joined by all eminent Serbs, whether 
teachers or priests or members of religious or even temperance 
societies. As soon as war broke out there were appalling 
massacres ; in such a small place as Pali, the winter sports 
village above Sarajevo, sixty men and women were killed. 
■Wholesale arrests filled the fortresses of Hungary with prisoners, 
of whom more than half were to die in their dungeons. 

The Austrian excuse for this war was self-defence ; but 
it is hard to extend it to cover the riots at Sarajevo. It is carry- 
ing self-defence too far to use a pickaxe and demolish the house 
of the man whom one regards, surely by that time only in theory, 
as an aggressor. Moreover, already the arrested youths had 
been interrogated and it must have been suspected by the 
authorities that the conspiracy might consist of a few isolated 
people of no importance. Before the provincial riots that 
suspicion must have become a certainty. For the prisoners 
had talked quite a lot. They, and those friends of theirs who 
had been arrested later, had been put to torture. Princip was 
tied to an oak beam so that he stood tiptoe on the ground. 
Grabezh was made to kneel on a rolling barrel, so that he con- 
tinually fell off in a stifling cloud of dust, and was put in a 
strait-jacket that was pulled in again and again ; and shep- 
herd dogs, of the sort that are often terribly strong and savage 
in Bosnia and Serbia, were let loose in his cell when he was 
faint with pain and lack of sleep. Chabrinovitch apparently 
escaped such tortures, because the garrulity of which his friends 
complained came in useful, and from the very beginning he told 
the police a great deal ; and they did not find out till the end 
of the trial that it was not true. He concocted a very clever 
story .that the Freemasons had ordered the murder of Franz 
Ferdinand because he was so militant a Catholic, which diverted 
suspicion from Belgrade. But Hitch was also arrested, and the 
threat of torture was enough to make him tell everything. Let 


him who is without fear cast the first stone ; but it meant that all 
the peasants and tradesmen who had reluctantly helped in the 
journey from the frontier, all the schoolboys who had chattered 
with him about revolt at the pastrycook’s, joined the conspirators 
in jail. Some of them, however, would have been arrested in 
any case, for the Austrian Army had by now crossed the Serbian 
frontier and seized the customs records, which made them able 
to trace the route. 

The conspirators passed a time of waiting before the trial 
which would have been unutterably terrible to Western prisoners, 
but which these strange, passionate yet philosophical children 
seem to have in a fashion enjoyed, though at one time hope 
deferred must have made their hearts sicken. In their cells they 
heard the guns of the Serbian Army as it crossed the Drina, and 
they expected to be rescued. But the sound of the firing guns 
grew fainter and died away, and later Serbian prisoners of war 
were brought into the prison. 

On the twelfth of October the trial began. It is typical of 
the insanity of our world that, ten weeks before this, Austria had 
declared war on Serbia because of her responsibility for the 
attentat, although these were the first proceedings which made 
it possible to judge whether that responsibility existed. The 
trial was for long veiled from common knowledge. Only certain 
highly official German and Austrian newspapers were allowed 
to send correspondents. Chabrinovitch, in the course of one of 
his very intelligent interventions in the trial, talked of the secret 
sittings of the court, and when the president asked him what he 
meant, he pointed out that no representatives of the opposition 
press were present. To this the president made the reply, which 
is curiously like what we have heard from the Nazis very often 
since, " What 1 According to your ideas, is a court open only when 
the representatives of the opposition are allowed to come in ? " 
There were naturally no English or French correspondents at that 
time ; and there were apparently no American journalists. None 
could follow Serbo-Croat, so they took their material from their 
German colleagues. The most dramatic event of our time was 
thus completely hidden from us at the time when it most affected 
us ; and it has only been gradually and partially revealed. The 
official reports were sent to Vienna and there they disappeared. 
Not till the early twenties was a carbon copy found in Sarajevo. 
This can be read in a French translation ; care should be taken 



in consulting a German version, for one at least abounds in 
interpolations and perversions devised in the interest of uphold- 
ing Chabrinovitch’s fabrications about Freemasonry. The only 
account of it in English is contained in Mr. Stephen Graham’s 
admirable novel St. Vitus' Day. 

It is perhaps for this reason that there are many false ideas 
abroad to-day concerning the conspiracy. It is imagined to 
have been far more formidable than it was. People say, “ You 
know Franz Ferdinand had no chance, there were seven men in 
the street to shoot him if Princip failed." This is what the 
Moslems in the Town Hall thought, but it is not true. Princip 
was not the first but the last in the line of assassins, and all the 
rest had proved themselves unfitted for their job. It is also held 
that the conspirators were dangerous fanatics of maniacal or at 
least degenerate type. But actually their behaviour in court 
was not only completely sane but cheerful and dignified, and 
their evidence and speeches showed both individual ability and 
a very high level of culture. Even those who hate violence 
and narrow passions must admit that the records of the trial 
open a world which is not displeasing. 

It is, of course, disordered. As a schoolboy goes into the 
dock he is asked according to form whether he has any previous 
convictions. Yes, he has served a fortnight in prison for having 
struck a teacher in a political disturbance in a class-room. One 
peasant, charged with helping the conspirators to dispose of the 
bombs, wept perpetually. It was the fate of his simple law- 
abiding sort to be ground between the upper and the nether mill- 
stones of an oppressive government and revolutionary societies 
so desperate that they dared to be almost as oppressive. When 
they asked him why he had not denounced the party to the police 
when he saw the bombs, he said, “ But with us one cannot do a 
thing like that without the permission of the head of the family.” 
He was sentenced to be hanged, and though his sentence was 
reduced to twenty years’ imprisonment, he died in prison. Other 
prisoners showed the essential unity of the Slav race by talking 
like Dostoevsky characters, by falling out of a procession that 
marched briskly to a temporal measure and settling down to 
discuss spiritual matters, no more quickly than the slow pulse 
of eternity. When the president of the court said to one of the 
schoolboys, “ But you say you’re religious . . . that you’re a 
member of the Orthodox Church. Don’t you realise that your 


religion forbids the killing of a man ? Is your faith serious or 
is it on the surface ? ” the boy thoughtfully answered, " Yes, it is 
on the surface”. Another expounded the mysticism of Pan- 
Slavism, claiming that his nationalism was part of his religion, 
and his religion was part of his nationalism. How poorly Austria 
was qualified to bring order into these gifted people’s lives — and 
there was no reason for her presence if she could not — is shown 
by the shocking muddle of the court procedure. Dates were 
hardly ever mentioned and topics were brought up as they came 
into the heads of the lawyers rather than according to any logical 

Nobody made any recriminations against Hitch, though it 
was apparent he had behaved far from well. Some of the 
prisoners fought for their lives, but with a certain dignity, and 
on the whole without sacrifice of their convictions. It is very 
clear, however, that Princip was in a class apart. Throughout 
the trial he was always selfless and tranquil, alert to defend and 
define his ideas but indifferent to personal attacks. He never 
made a remark throughput the trial that was not sensible and 
broad-minded. It is interesting to note that he declared he' had 
committed his crime as a peasant who resented the poverty the 
Austrians had brought on his kind. 

Chabrinovitch, however, was a very good second, in spite of 
the unfavourable impression he often made. That impression 
one can quite understand after one has read the records. At 
one point he held up the proceedings to make a clever and 
obscure joke that did not quite come oflF, of the sort that infuri- 
ates stupid people ; but it is also clear that he was extremely 
able. He kept his Freemasonry myth going with remarkable 
skill ; and Princip carried on a debate which the Left Wing 
youth of England and France came to only much later. 
Chabrinovitch had in the past been a pacifist. Indeed, though 
a passionate Pan-Serb, he had dissuaded many of his fellow- 
students from enlisting in Serbia's ranks during the Balkan 
wars. He was still so much of a pacifist that he was not sure 
whether his act in attempting the life of Franz Ferdinand had 
been morally defensible. It was, if it were ever right to use 
force ; but of that he was never fully persuaded. In his 
speech to the court before it pronounced judgment this point of 
view was very apparent. He did not ask for mercy, and he quite 
rightly laid the blame for his crime on the poisoned atmosphere 


of the oppressed provinces, where every honest man was turned 
into a rebel, and assassination became a display of virtue. But 
Princip had always been of the opinion that this was not the 
time for Bosnians to delve into first principles. He had never 
been a pacifist, and as a boy had argued coldly and destructively 
with the Tolstoyan group in Sarajevo. He simply said ; “ Any- 
one who says that the inspiration for this attentat came from 
outside our groiq) is playing with the truth. We originated the 
idea, and we carried it out. We loved the people. 1 have nothing 
to say in my defence.” 

The trial went as might have been expected. Consideration 
of the speeches of the counsel for the defence show that it was 
very nearly as difficult in Austria for a prisoner charged by 
the government to find a lawyer to put his case as it is in Nazi 
Germany. The Croat lawyer who was defending one prisoner 
showed the utmost reluctance to plead his cause at all. He 
began his speech by saying, “ Illustrious tribunal, after all we 
have heard, it is peculiarly painful for me, as a Croat, to conduct 
the defence of a Serb.” But there was one counsel. Dr. Rudolf 
Zistler, who bore himself as a hero. With an intrepidity that 
was doubly admirable considering it was war-time, he pointed 
out that the continual succession of trials for high treason in 
the Slav provinces could only be explained by misgovernment ; 
and he raised a vital point, so vital that it is curious he was 
allowed to finish his speech, by claiming that it was absurd to 
charge the prisoners with conspiracy to detach Bosnia and 
Herzegovina from the Austrian Empire, because the legal basis 
of the annexation of these provinces was unsatisfactory, and 
in any case the annexation had never been properly ratified. 
Apparently the first proposition can be disputed, but the second 
IS sound enough. Neither the Austrian nor Hungarian Parlia- 
ment ever voted on the necessary Act of Annexation. It was 
only a technicality, just another piece of ScMamperei ; but it 
adds yet one more fantastic touch to the event that Princip had 
had a legal right to be where he was in Sarajevo, and that 
Franz Ferdinand had had none. 

Nothing, of course, was of any avail. Hitch, together with 
a schoolmaster, a retired bioscope exhibitor, the peasant who 
wept, and one more stoical, who had all played a part in 
harbouring and transporting the munitions, was sentenced to 
the gallows, and the first three of them were hanged in Sarajevo 


four months later. The last two were reprieved and sentenced 
to imprisonment for twenty years and for life respectively. 
Princip, Chabrinovitch and Grabezh would have been hanged 
had they not been under twenty-one. As it was, they received 
sentences of twenty years’ imprisonment, one day of fast 
each month, and twenty-four hours in a dungeon on every 
anniversary of the twenty-eighth of June. The rest of the 
conspirators were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging 
from life down to three years. These were not excessive 
sentences. In England Princip would have very rightly been 
sent to the gallows. Nevertheless, the sequel is not such as 
can be contemplated without horror and pity. Thirteen con- 
spirators were sent to Austrian prisons. Before the end of the 
war, which came three and half years later, nine of them had 
died in their cells. 

How this slow murder was contrived in the case of Princip 
is known to us, through Slav guards and doctors. He was 
taken to an eighteenth-century fortress at Theresienstadt, 
between Prague and Dresden. The Austrians would not leave 
him in Sarajevo because they already saw that the war was 
not going as they had hoped, and they feared that Bosnia might 
fall into Serbian hands. He was put in an underground cell 
filled with the stench of the surrounding marshes, which received 
the fortress sewage. He was in irons. There was no heating. 
He had nothing to read. On St. Vitus’ Day he had sustained 
a broken rib and a crushed arm which were never given proper 
medical attention. At Theresienstadt the arm became tubercul- 
ous and suppurated, and he contracted a fungoid infection on 
the body. Three times he tried to commit suicide, but in his 
cell there lacked the means either of life or of death. In 1917 
his forearm became so septic that it had to be amputated. By 
this time Chabrinovitch and Grabezh were both dead, it is 
said of tuberculosis. Grabezh at any rate had been a per- 
fectly healthy boy till his arrest. Princip never rallied after his 
operation. He had been put in a windowless cell, and though he 
could no longer be handcuffed, since the removal of his arm, 
his legs were hobbled with heavy chains. In the spring of 1918 
he died. He was buried at night, and immense precautions 
were taken to conceal the spot. But the Austrian Empire had 
yet to make the last demonstration of Schlamperei in connection 
with the Sarajevo attentat. One of the soldiers who dug the 



grave was a Slav, and he took careful note of its position ; he 
came forward after the peace and gave his information to the 
Serbs. They were able to identify the body by its mutilations. 

Princip appears to have suffered greatly under his im- 
prisonment, though with courage. In his death, as in every- 
thing we hear reported of his life, there was a certain noble 
integrity of experience. He offered himself wholly to each 
event in order that he might learn in full what revelation it had 
to make about the nature of the universe. How little of a 
demented fanatic he was, what qualities of restraint and 
deliberation he brought to his part in the attentat, is revealed 
by the testimony of the Czech doctor who befriended him in 
prison. From the court records one would suppose him to be 
without personal ties, to be perhaps an orphan, at any rate to 
be wholly absorbed in politics. Yet to the Czech doctor he 
spoke perpetually of his dear mother, of his brothers and their 
children, and of a girl whom he had loved and whom he had 
hoped to marry, though he had never kissed her. 

Chabrinovitch took his punishment differently, and almost 
certainly a little more happily. It chanced that in prison he 
had momentary contact with Franz Werfel, the greatest of post- 
war Austrian writers, who was working there as hospital orderly. 
In an essay Werfel has recorded his surprise at finding that the 
Slav assassin, whom he had imagined as wolfish and demented, 
should turn out to be this delicate and gentle boy, smiling 
faintly in his distress. It can be recognised from his account 
that Chabrinovitch used in prison that quality which annoyed 
his less-gifted friends, which was the antithesis, or perhaps the 
supplement, of Princip's single-mindedness. He took all ex- 
perience that came his way and played with it, discussed it, 
overstated it, understated it, moaned over it, joked about it, 
tried out all its intellectual and emotional potentialities. What 
these youths did was abominable, precisely as abominable as 
the tyranny they destroyed. Yet it need not be denied that 
they might have grown to be good men, and perhaps great 
men, if the Austrian Empire had not crashed down on them in 
its collapse. But the monstrous frailty of Empire involves such 

At the cemetery we forgot for a moment why we were there, 
so beautifully does it lie in the tilted bowl of the town. It is 
always so in Sarajevo. Because of the intricate contours of its 


hills it is for ever presenting a new picture, and the mind runs 
away from life to its setting. And when we had passed the 
cemetery gates, we forgot again for another reason. Not far 
away among the tombs there was a new grave, a raw wound in 
the grass. A wooden cross was at its head, and burning candles 
were stuck in the broken clay. At the foot of it stood a young 
officer, his face the colour of tallow. He rocked backwards in 
his grief, though very slightly, and his mouth worked with 
prayer. His uniform was extremely neat. Yet once, while we 
stared at him in shocked distress, he tore open his skirted coat 
as if he were about to strip ; but instantly his hand did up the 
buttons as if he were a nurse coolly tending his own delirium. 

This was a Slav, this is what it is to be a Slav. He was offer- 
ing himself wholly to his sorrow, he was learning the meaning 
of death and was not refusing any part of the knowledge ; for 
he knew that experience is the cross man must take up and 
carry. Not for anything would he have chosen to feel one shade 
less pain ; and if it had been joy he was feeling, he would have 
permitted himself to feel all possible delight. He knew only 
that in suffering or rejoicing he must not lose that control of the 
body which enabled him to be a good soldier and to defend 
himself and his people, so that they could endure experience 
along their own path and acquire their own revelation of the 

There is no other way of living which promises that man shall 
ever understand his destiny better than he does, and live less 
familiarly with evil. Yet to numberless people all over Europe, 
to numberless people in Great Britain, this man would be loath- 
some as a leper. It is not pleasant to feel pain, it is the act of 
a madman to bare the breast to agony. It is not pleasant to 
admit that we know almost nothing, so little that, for lack of 
knowledge, our actions are wild and foolish. It is not pleasant 
to be bound to the task of learning all our days, to be under the 
obligation to go on learning even though it involves making 
acquaintance with pain, although we know that we must die 
still in ignorance. To do these things it is necessary to have 
faith in what is entirely hidden and unknown, to cast away all 
the acquisitions and certainties which would ensure a comfortable 
existence lest they should impede us on a journey which may 
never be accomplished, which never even offers comfort. There- 
fore the multitudes in Europe who are not himgry for the truth 



would say : " Let us kill these Slavs with their dedication to 
insanity, let us enslave them lest they make all wealth worthless 
and introduce us at the end to God, who may not be pleasant 
to meet." 

The judge and the banker said, " Look, they are here." 
Close to the palings of the cemetery, under three stone slabs, lie 
the conspirators of Sarajevo, those who were hanged and five 
of those who died in prison ; and to them has been joined Zhera- 
itch, the boy who tried to kill the Bosnian governor General 
Vareshanin and was kicked as he lay on the ground. The slab 
in the middle is raised. Underneath it lies the body of Princip. 
To the left and the right lie the others, the boys on one side and 
the men on the other, for in this country it is recognised that the 
difference between old and young is almost as great as that 
between men and women. The grave is not impressive. It is 
as if a casual hand had swept them into a stone drawer. There 
was a battered wreath laid askew on the slabs, and candles 
flickered in rusty lanterns. This untidiness means nothing. It 
is the Moslem habit to be truthful about death, to admit that 
what it leaves of our kind might just as well be abandoned to the 
process of the earth. Only to those associated with a permanent 
system, who were holy men or governors or great soldiers, do 
Moslems raise tombs that are in any sense a monument, and 
they are more careful to revere these than to keep them in order. 
After all, a stone with a green stain of weed on it commemorates 
death more appropriately than polished marble. This attitude 
is so reasonable that it has spread from the Moslems to the 
Christians in all territories where they are found side by side. 
It does not imply insensibility. The officer swaying in front of 
the cross on the new grave might never be wholly free of his 
grief till he died, but this did not mean that he would derive any 
satisfaction at all in making the grave look like part of a garden. 
And as we stood by the shabby monument an old woman passing 
along the road outside the cemetery paused, pressed her face 
against the railings, looked down on the stone slab, and retreated 
into prayer. Later a young man who was passing by with a cart 
loaded with vegetables stopped and joined her, his eyes also set 
in wonder on the grave, his hand also making the sign of the 
cross on brow and breast, his lips also moving. 

On their faces there was none of the bright acclaiming look 
which shines in the eyes of those who talk of, say, Andreas Hofer. 



They seemed to be contemplating a mystery, and so they were ; 
for the Sarajevo attentat is mysterious as history is m}^terious, 
as life is mysterious. Of all the men swept into this great drawer 
only one, Princip, had conceived what they were doing as a 
complete deed. To Chabrinovitch it had been a hypothesis to 
be used as a basis for experiment ; his vision of it came from 
the brain only, and not from the blood. To some of the others 
it had been an event interesting to imagine, which would cer- 
tainly not be allowed to happen by the inertia we all feel in the 
universe, the resistance life puts up against the human will, 
particularly if that is making any special effort. To the rest, to 
the unhappy peasants and tradesmen who found themselves quite 
involuntarily helping the boys in their journey from the Serbian 
frontier, it must have seemed as if the troubles of their land 
had fused into a mindless catastrophe, like plague or famine. 
But the deed as Princip conceived it never took place. It was 
entangled from its first minute with another deed, a murder 
which seems to have been fully conceived by none at all, but 
which had a terrible existence as a fantasy, because it was 
dreamed of by men whose whole claim to respect rested on their 
realistic quality, and who abandoned all restraint when they 
strayed into the sphere of fantasy. Of these two deeds there was 
made one so potent that it killed its millions and left all living 
things in our civilisation to some degree disabled. I write of a 
mystery. For that is the way the deed appears to me, and to all 
Westerners. But to those who look at it on the soil where it was 
committed, and to the lands east of that, it seems a holy act of 
liberation ; and among such people are those whom the West 
would have to admit are wise and civilised. 

This event, this Sarajevo attentat, was in these inconsistencies 
an apt symbol of life : which is loose and purposeless, which 
weaves a close pattern and doggedly pursues its ends, which is 
unpredictable and illogical, which follows a straight line from 
cause to effect, which is bad, which is good. It shows that 
human will can do anything, it shows that accident does every- 
thing. It shows that man throws away his peace for a vain cause 
if he insists on acquiring knowledge, for the more one knows 
about the attentat the more incomprehensible it becomes. It 
shows also that moral judgment sets itself an impossible task. 
The soul should choose life. But when the Bosnians chose life, 
and murdered Franz Ferdinand, they chose death for the French 



and Germans and English, and if the French and Germans and 
English had been able to choose life they would have chosen 
death for the Bosnians. The sum will not add up. It is mad- 
ness to wrack our brains over this sum. But there is nothing 
else we can do except try to add up this sum. We are nothing 
but arithmetical functions which exist for that purpose. 

We went out by the new grave where the young ofRcer was 
trying to add up the sum in the Slav way. A sudden burst 
of sunshine made the candle-flames sadder than darkness. He 
swayed so far forward that he had to stay himself by clutching 
at the cross. His discipline raised him and set him swinging 
back to his heels again. 


We were going to see the village outside Sarajevo where the 
Austrians built a racecourse and where Franz Ferdinand stayed 
the night before he died. The road was so extravagantly bad 
that we bounced like balls, and Constantine had a star of mud 
on his forehead as he told us, " Sarajevo has a soul like a village, 
though it is a town. Now, why has a village the sort of soul 
that it has ? Because it is irrigated, because there flow through 
it rivers of water and rivers of air. If there is water running 
through a city it is no longer water, it is not clear, it might evoke 
demonstrations of fastidiousness from a camel ; if there is air 
blowing through the city it cannot be called wind, it loses its 
force among the houses. So it is with movements in the mind, 
they become polluted and efiete. Religion instead of being an 
ecstasy and a cosmology becomes ethical, philosophical, peni- 
tential. But in Sarajevo,” he continued, as the car lifted itself 
out of a rut with a movement not to be expected from a machine, 
credible only in a tiger leaping out of a pit, “ there is a vivifying 
conception which irrigates the city and makes it fresh like a 
village. Here Slavs, and a very fine kind of Slav, endowed with 
great powers of perception and speculation, were confronted with 
the Turkish Empire at its most magnificent, which is to say Islam 
at its most magnificent, which is to say Persia at its most mag- 
nificent. Its luxury we took, its militarism and its pride, and 
above all its conception of love. The luxury has gone. The 
militarism has gone. You saw at the railway station the other 



morning yrhat had happened to the pride. But the conception 
of love is still in the city, and it is a wonderful conception, it 
refreshes and revivifies, it is clean water and strong wind.” 

" What is peculiar about this conception of love ? ” asked 
my husband, who had just been thrown on his knees to the floor 
of the car. " It is,” said Constantine, failing to remove his 
stomach from the small of my back, " the conception of love 
which made us as small boys read the Arabian Nights with such 
attention, so that Grandmamma always said, ‘ How he reads and 
reads, we must make a priest of him.’ Is it not extraordinary, 
by the way, that all over Europe, even in the pudic nurseries 
of your own country, this should be regarded as a children’s 
book ? It is as if our civilisation felt fear that it had carried too 
far its experiment of bringing up children in innocence, but 
would not admit it, and called in another race to administer all 
that knowledge which had been suppressed, in an exotic and 
disguised form, so that it could be passed off as an Eastern talis- 
man engraved with characters which naturally cannot be read, 
though they are to be admired aesthetically.” " About this 
conception of love,” said my husband, struggling up to a seated 
position and wiping the mud off his glasses, ” you mean the old 
crones arriving with messages, and the beautiful women in 
darkened rooms, and the hiding in jars ? ” “ Yes, that is it,” 
said Constantine, " the old crones, very discreet, the pursuit of 
the occasion that demanded faith, the flash of eye below a veil 
lifted for only a second, the wave of a scarf from a lattice, which 
was at once a promise of beauty and a challenge to cunning 
and courage, for there might be a witty ambush hiding in jars 
and there might be death from a eunuch’s sword. It is too 

“ Too beautiful 1 ” he repeated, beaming as one cradled in 
content though at the moment he was actually suspended in the 
air. " It is a conception of love which demands that it should 
be sudden and secret and dangerous. You from the West have 
no such conception of love. It seems to you that love must be 
as slow as the growth of a plant : a man and woman must come 
throughout many months to a full understanding of each other’s 
natures and take serious vows to fulfil each other’s needs. You 
think also that a man insults a woman if he wishes to make 
love to her without delay, and that a woman is worthless if 
she gives herself to a man before they have killed a great part 



of the calendar. In this there is much truth. I remember that 
when I was a young man in Paris, it sometimes happened that 
though I had two mistresses there were times when I went out 
into the street and took the first woman I met, and it was 
because I am in part a barbarian and so I could not wait. 
That was nothing. But love can be sudden and quite different 
from that. It can be so ecstatic that it can come into full 
being at a single encounter, that it needs only that encounter 
to satisfy the lovers. 

“ If you offered them a lifetime together you could not offer 
them more than the night that follows when the old crone has 
opened the door. No, the car is not going to turn over. And 
when you come back next year the road will be better. We are 
a young country, and we will do all, but we have not yet had the 
time. Such love could properly be engendered by a single glance 
from the eyes. Indeed it could not claim to be this kind of love, 
this ultimate affinity, if the most infinitesimal contact was not 
enough to declare it. That is why it must be sudden. 

“ It must be secret because jealousy is a part of both this 
sudden love and the other slow-moving kind. A man who per- 
forms the miracle of keeping a woman happy for forty years 
cannot bear it that on one night during those forty years another 
man should be necessary for her happiness ; and a man who 
meets a woman once and makes that meeting as fabulous in her 
memory as a night spent in the moon cannot bear it that he 
should not be the father of the eleven children whose noses she 
wipes. Hence these men must not know of each other. We 
roar like bulls about our honour, but so it is. 

“ Also this love must be dangerous, or it would not be 
itself. That is not to say that one does not value a thing unless 
one has paid a great price for it — that is vulgar. But if a 
woman did not know that to lift her veil before a stranger was 
perhaps to die, she might perhaps lift it when she had received 
no intimation of this great and sudden love : when she was 
merely barbarian. And indeed neither she nor her lover could 
fully consummate this kind of love without a sense of peril. 
They would not shut the eyes of reason and precipitate them- 
selves into the abyss of passion, unless they knew this might 
be their last chance to experience it or, indeed, anything else. 

“ It is a more marvellous conception of love, I think, than 
anything other nations know. The French make love for the 


sake of life ; and so like living it often falls to something less 
than itself, to a little trivial round. The Germans make love 
for the sake of death ; as they like to put off civilian clothes 
and put on uniform, because there is more chance of being 
killed, so they like to step out of the safe casual relations of 
society and let loose the destructive forces of sex. So it was 
with ' Werther ’ and ' Elective Affinities ’, and so it was in the 
years after the war, when they were so promiscuous that sex 
meant nothing at all. And this is not to speak ill of the French 
and Germans, for the love of life and the love of death are both 
necessary things. But this conception unites love of life and 
death in a single experience. Such lovers are conscious at once 
of the extremity of danger and that which makes danger most 
terrible and at the same time most worth challenging.” 

“ But that is the essence of all adventure,” said my husband, 

“ and indeed it is the essence of ” *' Yes, yes, what you say 

is very true,” said Constantine, as he always does when he 
intends that the person who is talking to him shall talk no more. 
“ It is this conception of love which gives life to the city of 
Sarajevo. How far this tradition exists to-day I cannot tell. 
But I think that even now old women are sometimes sent with 
messages that must be read by only one person, and 1 think 
that the plum trees would not blossom so freely round those 
little restaurants on the hillside above the town if some god or 
goddess had not been placated by sacrifice.” " You think,” 
said my husband, " the rose never grows one half so red." 
" But I am sure,” continued Constantine, " that the conception 
gives the town a special elegance. The men and women in it 
have another dimension given to their lives, because they have 
kept in their hearts the capacity for this second kind of love. 
They are not mutilated by its suppression, and they have hope. 
All of them may yet have this revelation, and some of them 
have actually had it. I think that is why so many of the women 
here have lips and eyes that shine like children’s, and why the 
men are not bitter or grudging or hurried. A sensuality that 
is also a mysticism,” he cried, “ what can a race invent better 
for itself ? But here is Ilidzhe, here is our marvellous Ilidzhe ! ” 
He leaped in one second from well-buttered reverie to shaking 
indignation. " Ilidzhe, our Potemkin village ! They built it 
to show the foreign visitors how well they had imposed civilisa- 
tion on our barbarism, just as Potemkin built villages on the 



steppes to impress the foreign ambassadors with Russian 
prosperity, hollow villages that were built the day before and 
were pulled down the day after. Come, look at their civilisation, 
at our barbarity 1